Save data on your iPhone or iPad

Does your iPhone keep run­ning out of cel­lu­lar data be­fore your al­lowance is re­set each month? Karen Khan’s tips will help

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

1. Wi-Fi As­sist

A quick one worth check­ing be­fore we move on to more dif­fi­cult or in­con­ve­nient so­lu­tions. When Ap­ple in­tro­duced iOS 9 some users found that their Mo­bile Data (or Cel­lu­lar Data if you are in the US’) was be­ing gob­bled up more rapidly than be­fore. It turned out that the rea­son for this was Ap­ple’s new Wi-Fi As­sist fea­ture, which utilises the mo­bile net­work if your Wi-Fi is flaky.

If you think this is hap­pen­ing to you, you can turn this fea­ture off in Set­tings > Mo­bile Data then scroll to the bot­tom of the page where you can turn off Wi-Fi As­sist. In iOS 10, Ap­ple tweaked the fea­ture so it now shows how much data has been used by Wi-Fi as­sist. It’s still a fea­ture that’s on by de­fault, though.

Ap­ple has at least made sure that there are some lim­i­ta­tions to the fea­ture, though: it won’t work when you are data roam­ing in an­other coun­try and not all apps can take ad­van­tage of the fea­ture, for ex­am­ple video and au­dio stream­ing apps are ex­empt. How­ever, Ap­ple’s Sa­fari, Mail, Maps, and Ap­ple Mu­sic do utilise the fea­ture.

2. Track how much iPhone data you use

Be­fore you can start to man­age your iPhone cel­lu­lar data us­age, you need to keep tabs on how much you are us­ing. To view how much data you have used go to Set­tings > Cel­lu­lar (Or Mo­bile Data) and scroll down to see your Mo­bile Data Us­age. If you have never re­set this num­ber it could be pretty big.

Our ad­vice is to get in the habit of re­set­ting it ev­ery month, per­haps set an alert on your phone so that you re­mem­ber to re­set it on the day your net­work re­sets your al­lowance. To re­set your statis­tics, scroll down to the bot­tom of the page and tap: Re­set Statis­tics. Get in the habit of look­ing here once in a while so you can see if you are on tar­get.

Those look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle more com­pre­hen­sive should take a look at Data Us­age, an app that we have been us­ing our­selves for the past three years to keep track of our monthly data us­age.

The app looks to mea­sure cel­lu­lar and Wi-Fi data us­age in real time, and of­fers this in two dif­fer­ent ways – via the app it­self, and via a handy To­day wid­get that can be added to your no­ti­fi­ca­tion cen­tre.

The app asks you to in­put your monthly data limit and then pro­duces statis­tics like how much you should use per day un­til your data is re­newed, or if you’re likely to go over your al­lowance in any given month.

Users can also take a look back at the data from any month in the past, as long as the app was be­ing used of course. Those in­ter­ested can take a look at Data Us­age on the App Store, and it only costs 49p.

3. Stop iPhone apps us­ing cel­lu­lar data

Back in iOS 7, Ap­ple in­tro­duced the abil­ity to de­ter­mine which apps on your iPhone are al­lowed to use cel­lu­lar data. When we are close to our al­lowance, we head to Set­tings > Cel­lu­lar/Mo­bile Data and scroll down to switch off a num­ber of apps so that we will think twice be­fore wast­ing our cel­lu­lar al­lowance on them.

The other ben­e­fit of stop­ping some of your apps us­ing cel­lu­lar data is that it should stop them up­dat­ing in the back­ground when you are out and about – thereby pre­serv­ing bat­tery life.

Be­low each of the apps on the Set­tings > Cel­lu­lar page you will see just how much data they have been us­ing since you last re­set your iPhone.

You can ex­pect that the apps you use fre­quently will have higher data us­age, but any that stand out as guz­zling a lot more data that you think they should be can be switched off here.

4. Turn off 3G and 4G data on your iPhone

If things are re­ally des­per­ate, one way to pre­serve your data when you are run­ning low is to tem­po­rar­ily dis­able cel­lu­lar data. This way if you have a week or so to go un­til your con­tract re­news then you can man­age your us­age rather than run­ning out com­pletely.

To turn off your cel­lu­lar data so go to Set­tings > Cel­lu­lar (Mo­bile Data) and tog­gle the Cel­lu­lar Data (Mo­bile Data) switch to off.

This will turn off all cel­lu­lar data and re­strict all data to Wi-Fi, in­clud­ing email, web brows­ing and push no­ti­fi­ca­tions. We also find this is a handy way to pre­serve bat­tery life – as op­posed to turn­ing the phone to Air­plane Mode, which pre­serves power but means no­body can con­tact you.

5. Turn off au­to­play video in Face­book, Twit­ter & In­sta­gram

A while ago Face­book added a fea­ture to their iOS app that means when you are scrolling through your news feed any video that’s been posted will au­to­mat­i­cally stream – even if you’re not on a Wi-Fi net­work. Ob­vi­ously this isn’t an ideal sit­u­a­tion if you’ve got a lim­ited data al­lowance. We rec­om­mend you change your set­tings so that it only streams if you are in Wi-Fi.

Open Face­book and click on More at the bot­tom of the screen. Now choose Ac­count Set­tings > Videos

and Pho­tos > Video Set­tings > Auto-play and se­lect On Wi-Fi Con­nec­tions Only or Never Auto-plays Videos.

Like Face­book, Twit­ter also has an au­to­play video fea­ture that you can turn off in the app. From the pro­file view, tap the Gear icon, then Set­tings > Data > Video Au­to­play and choose Never play videos au­to­mat­i­cally or Use Wi-Fi only.

There is a sim­i­lar se­ries of steps in In­sta­gram to turn off video stream­ing over your data con­nec­tion. Tap the Gear icon in In­sta­gram, se­lect Mo­bile Data Use and choose the Use Less Data op­tion.

6. Use Twit­ter Lite

Along with the abil­ity to turn off auto-play­ing videos on Twit­ter, the so­cial net­work of­fers Twit­ter Lite to al­low those with capped data al­lowances to browse the site with­out worry. It’s also de­signed to be used on a slow In­ter­net con­nec­tion, so is a good al­ter­na­tive to use when trav­el­ling.

How does it help? It pro­vides a stripped-down ver­sion of mo­bile Twit­ter where users have to tap on ev­ery im­age, GIF and video to dis­play it, in­stead of it be­ing loaded au­to­mat­i­cally as you scroll past. This should stop im­ages/GIFs/videos you’re not in­ter­ested in from us­ing up

your mo­bile data and hope­fully make it last a lit­tle bit longer than be­fore.

To ac­cess Twit­ter Lite, head to mo­bile.twit­ on your iPhone, tap your pro­file icon and tog­gle on Data Saver. Once you reload your time­line, you should have ac­cess to Twit­ter Lite.

7. Stop us­ing data-hun­gry apps on 3G or 4G

FaceTime: It’s great that we can use FaceTime over 3G or 4G, but it sucks up data. Go to Set­tings > Cel­lu­lar and scroll down your list of apps to make sure that FaceTime is switched off for cel­lu­lar data. Cru­cially, this will also stop any­one con­tact­ing you via FaceTime over 3G.

iCloud Drive: Go to Set­tings > iCloud > iCloud Drive. Here you can turn off Cel­lu­lar Data so that your iPhone only up­dates iCloud Drive when you’re on a Wi-Fi net­work. Al­ter­na­tively, turn off the abil­ity for apps to store doc­u­ments and data in the cloud by tog­gling the switch be­side each app to off.

iTunes: Go to Set­tings > iTunes & App Store and make sure that Use Cel­lu­lar Data/Mo­bile Data is switched off. Sim­i­larly, if you’re an Ap­ple Mu­sic sub­scriber, make sure Mo­bile Data is not se­lected in Set­tings > Mu­sic.

8. Photo Stream

Photo Stream was the main cul­prit when we started to reg­u­larly hit our data al­lowance back in the sum­mer of 2013, hav­ing signed up to a friend’s feed, and started shar­ing one of our own. Even though the ser­vice claimed it would “au­to­mat­i­cally upload new pho­tos and send them to all of your iCloud de­vices when con­nected to Wi-Fi”, we were get­ting sent pho­tos from our friend’s Photo Stream over 3G.

Luck­ily things have got bet­ter since then. The iOS 7 up­date bought the abil­ity to man­age Photo Shar­ing. You could turn off iCloud Photo Shar­ing (at Set­tings > Photo & Cam­era), which would stop your phone from down­load­ing im­ages from other peo­ple’s shared photo streams that you sub­scribe to (you can still down­load them on your Mac or an­other de­vice).

When Ap­ple launched iCloud Photo Li­brary, we were con­cerned that it could also gob­ble up iPhone mo­bile data, but the Upload to My Photo Stream in­di­cates that it is via Wi-Fi only.

One way to make ab­so­lutely sure that Photo doesn’t use your cel­lu­lar con­nec­tion is to go to Set­tings > Mo­bile Data and switch the slider be­side Pho­tos to off.

9. Use Sa­fari read­ing list to view ar­ti­cles off­line

One of our favourite new fea­tures that ar­rived in the iOS 7 ver­sion of Sa­fari was the Read­ing List fea­ture that lets you down­load a web page for read­ing off line. This is great when you are read­ing a web page dur­ing a com­mute and about to head into a tun­nel. The fea­ture re­mains in iOS 8, iOS 9 and iOS 10.

It’s also great if you are out of data and want to be able to read some ar­ti­cles on your iPhone while you are out and about. You can queue up a few web pages in your Read­ing List while you are on a Wi-Fi net­work, and then read them with­out us­ing up any data.

While you have ac­cess to Wi-Fi go to Sa­fari, open the web pages you wish to read, click on the Share icon at the bot­tom of the page, and se­lect Add to Read­ing List. Wait for the phone to down­load the ar­ti­cle and then head out. You will be able to read it even if you are us­ing Air­plane Mode.

How­ever, if you don’t want your phone to use cel­lu­lar data to down­load the pages you have added to read­ing list on your other de­vices, you need to head to Set­tings > Sa­fari and scroll down to tog­gle off Use Cel­lu­lar Data for read­ing list.

10. Turn off Push No­ti­fi­ca­tions

How many of your ap­pli­ca­tions are us­ing the Ap­ple Push No­ti­fi­ca­tions ser­vice to alert you to new data?

Go to Set­tings > No­ti­fi­ca­tions to find out. You can eas­ily stop any apps from pes­ter­ing you with No­ti­fi­ca­tions here.

The for­mat for this has changed slightly in iOS 9 and iOS 10. Pre­vi­ously you could scroll down the list, tap on those apps you don’t want to no­tify you, and tog­gle to switch be­side: Show in No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre, and Show on Lock Screen. How­ever, you would still want to make sure that those apps that you still want to re­ceive no­ti­fi­ca­tions for aren’t do­ing so over your cel­lu­lar con­nec­tion.

In iOS 9 you get the choice of no­ti­fi­ca­tion style for each app. You can choose for apps to not Al­low No­ti­fi­ca­tions. Or you can choose the kind of No­ti­fi­ca­tions you al­low.

It’s slightly an­noy­ing that you have to turn off No­ti­fi­ca­tions on a per app ba­sis, but you can at least see the kind of no­ti­fi­ca­tion set­ting you have for each app with­out tap­ping on them first (it’s be­low the name of the app).

Note that if you have an Ap­ple Watch you may want some apps to dis­play no­ti­fi­ca­tions on that de­vice – go

to the Ap­ple Watch app to set this up. Those apps that ap­pear un­der In­clude on the No­ti­fi­ca­tions Cen­tre tab may be us­ing data to alert you to changes. If you re­ally don’t need to be told that your friend has replied to your post on Face­book turn No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre off by tap­ping Face­book, and switch­ing the slider to off.

Be ruth­less with the apps that are alert­ing you to changes, al­though if you then end up check­ing them ev­ery five min­utes it may be a false econ­omy.

11. Stop fetch­ing email

An­other one to curb is your email. If you have the phone or iPad set to fetch data wire­lessly at spe­cific in­ter­vals you will quickly con­sume data – this can get re­ally out of hand if you have your iPhone set to Push data to your iPhone from the server as it will be up­dat­ing all the time.

Start by mak­ing sure that Push is not se­lected. The way of do­ing this has changed in iOS 10.

Pre­vi­ously you could go to Set­tings > Mail, Con­tacts, Cal­en­dars > Fetch New Data and if Push is turned on, turn it off.

Then to make sure you are set to fetch data man­u­ally. Go to Set­tings > Mail, Con­tacts, Cal­en­dars > Fetch New Data and scroll down and se­lect Man­u­ally from the list. You can be even

more pre­cise if you pre­fer, and amend your fetch set­tings for sep­a­rate ac­counts. Chang­ing these set­tings also has the ben­e­fit of pre­serv­ing bat­tery life.

In iOS 10 you need to got Set­tings > Mail > Ac­counts > Fetch New Data and from that screen change Con­tacts & Cal­en­dars, and iCloud to Fetch and then in the list be­low set Fetch to Man­u­ally.

Al­ter­na­tively, go to Set­tings > Mail scroll to the Mes­sages sec­tion and de­s­e­lect Load Re­mote Im­ages.

12. Stop Back­ground App Re­fresh

One of the new fea­tures of iOS 7 was the abil­ity for your phone to au­to­mat­i­cally up­date its op­er­at­ing sys­tem, and it’s apps, in the back­ground with­out you hav­ing to act. The same fea­ture re­mains in iOS 8, 9 and 10.

How­ever, this can be a prob­lem if your phone de­cides to up­date when you aren’t on a Wi-Fi net­work. Head to Set­tings > Gen­eral > Back­ground App Re­fresh and make sure that the Back­ground App Re­fresh switch is set to off.

13. Browse in Chrome

There are al­ter­na­tives to Ap­ple’s Sa­fari when brows­ing the web on the iPhone and iPad, and a good one to try out if you are a bit short of data is Chrome.

The Chrome app has a Re­duce Data fea­ture that will go some way to re­duce the size of the web­sites you are brows­ing by run­ning the site through Google’s servers and com­press­ing the data.

14. Low-res im­ages in Mes­sages

In iOS 10 or later, you can choose to send low-qual­ity im­ages in Mes­sages. In­stead of send­ing an im­age in high res it will au­to­mat­i­cally send it as a com­pressed ver­sion sav­ing your data. To do so, go to Set­tings > Mes­sages and turn on Low-Qual­ity Im­age Mode.

15. Mind what you watch on Cel­lu­lar

Whether it’s Net­flix, YouTube or iPlayer, watch­ing your favourite shows could eat up your data if you watch over 3G/4G. In each app go to Set­tings and se­lect to play back only over Wi-Fi. For ex­am­ple in YouTube go to Set­tings and choose Play HD on Wi-Fi only. In Net­flix go to App Set­tings > Cel­lu­lar data us­age.

16. Keep Wi-Fi on

If you have ever found your­self switch­ing off Wi-Fi when your phone de­cides to con­nect to the Wi-Fi when you are about town you may find your­self us­ing cel­lu­lar when you are back at home.

It’s a frus­tra­tion that’s eas­ily fixed if you choose to for­get the net­work when one of them pops up. Just tap on the net­work name, and in the fol­low­ing screen se­lect For­get this Net­work.

17. Use Wi-Fi hotspots

You’ll be able to find Wi-Fi net­works all around, es­pe­cially in any big city. You can find Wi-Fi in most cof­fee shop chains, many restau­rants, and other pub­lic ar­eas like li­braries and air­ports. If you are a BT broad­band sub­scriber you can use the BT Wi-Fi app to get onto any of their hotspots for free. Down­load the BT Wi-Fi app

for iOS here. How­ever, you should al­ways ex­er­cise an air of cau­tion when ac­cess­ing a hotspot, as we ex­plain in this ar­ti­cle: How do I know if a Wi-Fi hotspot is safe. The best ad­vice is to use a Wi-Fi hotspot that re­quires a pass­word – it’s an ex­tra as­sur­ance that some­one else won’t be spy­ing on what you are do­ing.

18. Share your con­nec­tion to Wi-Fi

You could cre­ate a hotspot from your Mac and ac­cess it from your iPhone. This is ideal if you are at work and your boss won’t let you use the lo­cal Wi-Fi net­work, or if you are in a ho­tel which only has eth­er­net ac­cess.

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