Tuesday 6 August 2013

You can turn off the Wi-Fi 'always-on' feature on handsets with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean has begun rolling out in markets the world over with handset manufacturers planning updates in their roadmaps. However, there is one feature that seems to be on everyone’s minds with the release of the new Android update – the Wi-Fi is “always on”. Many fear this will drain their precious battery. According to Google this is not so. Also, if you dig deep enough into your settings you will be able to turn off the 'always on' feature.

Google had detailed the feature in its release notes. "To improve location accuracy and for other purposes, Google and other apps may scan for nearby networks, even when Wi-Fi is off," it read. So while you might assume that the Wi-Fi being always-on could take a toll on your phone’s battery life, it is quite the contrary.

With the Wi-Fi always-on, it reduces the phone’s dependence on the battery-leeching GPS to figure out your phone’s location. The APK teardown by Android Police last month also points out to the words “other purposes” in Google’s statement. The term here could possibly mean sending Wi-Fi location data back to the Internet giant. The way Wi-Fi hotspots for location data is used is by building a map of SSID (hotspot name) locations. Now, we could be transmitting that data back to Google, silently in the background.

You can check out if your phone has the option enabled; a lot of phones will probably not have it enabled. Head on to the Settings and navigate to the Wireless and Networks option. Tap the three-dots to bring up the menu and click on Advanced.  You will see the “Scanning always available” option. If the box is unchecked, Wi-Fi off really means Wi-Fi off on your handset. If you’d like to check the feature out and see how much toll it actually takes on your battery, check the box and see if it makes any difference.

Mind you, your Wi-Fi will always remain scanning in the background, even if you’ve chosen to keep it off, but it will definitely reduce the burden on the GPS. A lot of handsets have the feature off by default when you upgrade to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but you can choose to turn it off if it is active on your phone.

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