Smartphones are built for the Internet. Almost every functionality and every app seem to be designed with the presumption of an Internet connection always available. Naturally, installing and updating apps also require that. Internet access, however, isn’t available everywhere all the time. And in some cases, it can even be expensive. Google Play used to be indiscriminate about Internet connections. Either you had one or you didn’t, end of story. Fortunately, now it will be more forgiving, allowing users to choose not to download or update apps unless they’re on Wi-Fi.
Eagle-eyed Android Police readers spotted a new option in the latest Google Play Store version of the app that while simple can mean a world of difference for some markets. Normally, Play Store simply waits for an Internet connection before it downloads apps. That could be problematic for those who have limited and metered data connections, as Play Store can suddenly start downloading packages when they least expect it.
Now Play Store has an “App download preference” option that will let users choose which kind of network they want it to start downloading apps. At the very top, and the default, is Any network, which means Wi-Fi and everything else, be it direct cellular data or tethered connections. You can also set it to download only when you’re on a Wi-Fi connection.
“Ask me every time” might be a bit confusing or even misleading. It won’t actually ask you every single time. It will actually only ask you if you’re trying to download an app when you’re connected to anything but a Wi-Fi network. When on Wi-Fi, it won’t even ask.
It’s definitely reassuring to see Google take steps in fine-tuning the Google Play experience for cases where Internet access is an expensive luxury. It has recently introduced a security measure that would let users share and install Android APKs offline but still receive Google Play verification and the security benefits that come with it.