NetGuard gives Android users Wi-Fi control

March 18, 2017

I’m on a low-usage monthly phone plan. As a result, I’d love to be able to set most of my smartphone apps to use only free Wi-Fi internet connections and to allow only a few apps to access my cellular connection. But I can’t find any way to do it on my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone. Is there an app that will let me control Wi-Fi and cellular connections for my other apps?

There is such an app. What’s interesting is why there needs to be one.

This is a case of an operating system manufacturer deciding how much control to give phone users. Within the Google Android operating system used by your Galaxy S5 phone, there is no way to “turn off” an individual app’s ability to use the cellular network and force it to rely on Wi-Fi connections instead. Apple made the opposite decision with its iOS operating system; iPhone users can control an app’s cellular or Wi-Fi use.

In some cases, Android app makers will let you restrict their app to Wi-Fi only, or at least reduce its cellular data consumption. The Netflix app allows you to restrict video streaming to Wi-Fi only, and the YouTube video app and the Pandora music app let you minimize their use of cellular data, although you can’t turn it off.

But to get the same functionality as iPhone users, you need an Android app called NetGuard. It will enable you to decide which of your phone’s individual apps can use only cellular or only Wi-Fi connections. While NetGuard is free to download from the Google Play store, users must then pay to use its various controls.