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Tuesday Tip: How to Stop Auto-Updates on an Android Cell Phone

illustration of cell phone with auto-update animation

We’ve all been there. In the midst of a discussion, you state a fact that your friend doubts. For example, you tell your friend that two U.S. presidents have been impeached. Your friend insists that number is three. Your debate won’t last long. In a matter of seconds, you both think the exact same thing: Google it. Welcome to 21st-century personal communication!

So you grab your phone and just as you swipe the screen, you see the dreaded “auto-updates in progress.” You won’t be Googling anything.

Your phone is stuck in cellular limbo. It’s undergoing the tedious-but-necessary process of updating its software. A process that can take up to an hour. Not exactly a short amount of time when you need your phone.

Why Updating your Phone’s Operating System and Apps is Important

Auto-updates can be a real nuisance, but updating your software is important. Software developers release new updates to fix problems – often security issues – and add new features. If you don’t update your software, you leave yourself vulnerable to cyber attacks and malfunctioning apps.

The question then isn’t if you should update your cell phone apps and software, the question is how and when.

How to Stop Auto-Updates on Android Phones

In order to stop auto-updates and control when and how your cell phone updates, you must first turn off auto-updates.

If you’re on an Android phone, you’re probably running the latest operating system (OS) called Pie. These instructions to stop auto-updates assume that is the case. Even if you aren’t running Pie, the steps outlined here can be used as a general guide to help you turn off auto updates.

Updating your auto-update settings can also be phone specific, but again, these instructions will provide a basic framework from which to start with.

How to Stop your Phone from Auto-Updating its OS:

  1. Swipe down from the top edge of your screen to reveal the quick settings menu.
  2. Tap the cog (also called ‘gear’) icon, which is usually in the upper right corner. cog icon
  3. Tap “Software Update” from the list of options.
  4. Deselect “Download updates automatically”.
  5. Make sure all options are deselected.

How to Stop your Google Play Store Apps from Auto-Updating:

  1. Open the Google Play Store app. Google Play Icon
  2. On the upper left side of the screen, tap the menu icon. Menu icon - three horizontal lines
  3. Tap “Settings”.
  4. Tap “Auto-update apps”.
  5. Tap “Don’t auto-update apps”.
  6. Tap “Done”.

How to Manually Update Cell Phone Apps and Software

Now that you’ve turned off auto updates, you’ll want to make sure that you schedule a time to update your apps and software.

How to Manually Update your phone’s OS

  1. Swipe down from the top edge of your screen to reveal the quick settings menu.
  2. Tap the cog (also called ‘gear’) icon, which is usually in the upper right corner. cog icon
  3. Tap “Software Update” from the list of options.
  4. Tap “Manually update software”.

Your phone will now update to the latest version of the OS.

Tip: Restart your phone to ensure all updates are activated.

How to Manually Update Apps from the Google Play Store

  1. Open the Play Store app Google Play Icon
  2. Tap the  Menu icon Menu icon - three horizontal lines
  3. Select “My apps and games”
    1. Apps with an update available are labeled “Update.”
  4. Tap “Update All” to update all apps.
    1. For individual apps, find the specific app you want to update and tap Update.

When to Update your Cell Phone’s Apps and Software

You can decide the best time to update your software. Some things to consider are data usage and convenience.

Save data – Update your apps when you’re connected to WiFi

If data use is a concern of yours, you can set your phone to only update when you’re connected to WiFi. This will ensure you don’t dip into your data plan to update your apps and software. It will also help speed up the updating process.

To only allow your phone to update when you’re connected to WiFi:

  1. Swipe down from the top edge of your screen to reveal the quick settings menu
  2. Tap the cog (also called ‘gear’) icon, which is usually in the upper right corner cog icon
  3. Tap “Software Update”
  4. Toggle “Auto download over WiFi” to On

To only allow apps to update when you are connected to WiFi:

  1. Open the Google Play Store app Google Play Icon
  2. On the upper left side of the screen,  tap the menu icon Menu icon - three horizontal lines
  3. Select “Settings”
  4. Select Auto-update apps
  5. Select “Over WiFi only”
  6. Tap “Done”

Tip: In some cases, you may need to restart your device to update an app.

Make it Convenient

Choosing when to update also means that you can do so when it is most convenient for you. We recommend choosing a time when you won’t need your phone for about an hour. You’ll also need a few minutes extra to restart your phone after the update.

How to Schedule Auto-Updates on your Phone

When programming your phone to run automatic updates at a specified time, we recommend choosing a time when you won’t need your phone for about an hour.

  1. Swipe down from the top edge of your screen to reveal the quick settings menu
  2. Tap the cog (also called ‘gear’) icon, which is usually in the upper right corner cog icon
  3. Tap “Scheduled update”
  4. Toggle “Scheduled software updates” to On
  5. Select the time you would like your phone to run its auto updates.

Tip: Restart your phone to ensure all updates are activated.

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