PSA: Words with Friends Background Data

I'm sure quite a few Ting customers are like me - watching their data usage to save money. Normally I'm connected to WiFi pretty much every where I go, so my data usage typically remains pretty insignificant. I travel for my job, though, and don't have access to WiFi most of the time I'm on the road. I noticed the other day that my phone was using a LOT of data on days where I didn't think I was using all that much data.

Ting recommended awhile back to use Onavo Extend to help with data usage, since the service uses a VPN to compress data for you. I've been using it and I love it, with it's one fault being Android's data usage breakdown is nearly 100% "Onavo Extend". Since it intercepts and routes your traffic through the app, not much else gets shown as using data by Android. So I disabled it for a few days and my data usage culprit became very clear.

In 3 days, Words with Friends has used 60mb of data. When looking at the detailed breakdown, 3mb of data was used in the foreground (aka, while I have the app open and playing games) and 57mb of data was sent in the background. I have all of their leaderboards and everything except for notifications turned off, yet the game still used a whopping 57mb (over half of the Small bucket on Ting!) in just 3 days without me even having it open.

So I thought I'd post a little PSA here to let everyone else that uses Words with Friends know that it's abusing background data and likely costing you money you didn't even realize. When you look at Android's data usage breakdown, it gives you an option to restrict background data for an individual app. It prevents any background data from being sent/received by that app while on data (only allowing it on WiFi). I'd recommend taking that option for this game, even though it means you won't get game notifications while not connected to WiFi.

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