My AMAZON App Uses A Lot of Bandwidth

by on August 6, 2014

in consumer

Amazon LogoIt’s a sad day when you have to restrict an app from using up bandwidth in the last week of your billing cycle. Yet that is exactly what I had to do to keep my Amazon shopping app from killing my monthly bill. And as I search the web, I see I am not alone in observing what some Amazon apps are doing. Some search results even suggest that the app is collecting usage data. (And not doing a good job reporting its findings back to the mothership.)

Why am I looking up Amazon App Background Usage?

One day, a week prior to this writing I started receiving notices from Verizon that I had hit the 75% usage mark of my montly allotment for bandwidth.

I wasn’t completely shocked at first, being that I had just come from Comic-Con and maybe all the tweets and pics and other abnormal usage patterns contributed to this month’s warning.

Though, to be honest, I’ve never come close to my usage limit before so this is the first time I’ve seen this warning on my Verizon based Motorola (Google owned) RAZR.

When I looked at my data usage app on my phone, I was shocked and surprised to see what came next.

My Data Usage app showed that over a seven day period, how much I used Twitter and The Weather Channel and my daily, if not hourly fixation, my Facebook app. FB had just used up just over 50 MB of data streaming over the last seven days.

And there’s Amazon, having nearly double the bandwidth usage, topping out in these last seven days, at 103 MB.

Amazon App Bandwidth Usage

SIDENOTE: Their older app, the Amazon App Store, apparently had a lot of reports of the same kind of behavior.

My only problem with this report is that I don’t use my Amazon app. All that bandwidth usage came from Amazon’s background services, whatever those are.  Yes… Amazon was “doing things for me,” like their permissions say they might.

Let’s not get too focused on permissions though. Most of them are benign and are there for when you use your app, and you allow it, while using it, to do things like read your phone status, take pictures, calculate your location (OK, does it need to know where I am for me to buy something? NO.), modify contents of my SD card, find accounts on my device (Why?), use accounts on the device (Wait, what?) and the like.

To be honest, it’s not as insidious as some of Facebook’s  app permission requests, like “read your text messages (SMS or MMS),” “read call log,” “read your contacts,” “write call log,” “download files without notification,” “REORDER RUNNING APPS,” “retrieve running apps” and the like. I have no clue why FB would need to read my text messages. But I digress.

The idea of uninstalling the Amazon app is unappealing. Many folks are Amazon addicts. Partly because it’s pretty easy to ring up things and partly because folks trust the process that has come to be delivered via Amazon.

To date, I’ve restricted my Amazon app to only do its mysterious communications when connected to a WiFi network, therefore, minimizing my monthly bill impact.

I did that via the unintuitive process that I outline below…

To Turn Off Background App Usage On Mobile Networks:

On my Verizon RAZR,

  • I went to SETTINGS,
  • DATA USAGE,
  • Slid the screen upward until I saw the app I want to modify,
  • Pressed my AMAZON (or whatever) app name,
  • Slid to the bottom of the subsequent screen and
  • Chose RESTRICT BACKGROUND DATA.

This disables that apps use of pumping out background data on mobile networks, using non-mobile networks when available.

This background usage thing is not unique to the Amazon app. All apps do this to some degree or another. All apps are set to update themselves automatically when you install them from the “Play Store.” It’s there that I turn that off, in the “Store.”

  • You simply bring up any installed app,
  • Touch the control/settings bar menu buttons in the upper right,
  • Unselect the AUTO-UPDATE option.

I prefer to update apps when I want to. Besides, most apps seem to only install better advertising managers and little new usefulness.

Did you know that…

Instagram preloads videos for you, Twitter downloads images for preview versions, and that’s a few quick examples.

You can tame their usage of background usage by

Instagram:

  • Instagram profile
  • Settings bar
  • (Settings) Videos
  • (Data Usage) check “Preload videos on Wi-Fi only.

Twitter:

  • Twitter feed
  • Settings bar
  • Settings
  • General
  • uncheck Image previews.

Or you can minimize all android apps using your mobile bandwidth by doing the following:

  • Go to SETTINGS,
  • Look under WIRELESS & NETWORKS,
  • Open DATA USAGE,
  • Tap the SETTINGS bar buttons,
  • Choose RESTRICT BACKGROUND DATA.

Since my bandwidth issues started with Amazon, I’m not too worried about restricting all background data usage. Yet. But it’s nice to know, as of today (8-6-14), that you can do that.

For now, I am looking at uninstalling my Amazon app.

Sure, I’ve restricted when it creeps around in the background so my bandwidth does not get dinged.  But it’s still there, doing its thing when I’m at home or near open networks.

And to be honest, I suspect that it’s the Amazon app that’s contributing to the battery drain I see lately. Over a five to six hour period, my battery can lose 10% of its charge.

That doesn’t seem right, but then again, in this day and age, what does? We’re in flux with our tech and our tech is getting busy.

To be honest, if I uninstall my Amazon app, this would be the second time in as many years. I previously had similar issues with the app a few years back and smite it from my phone.

When I installed it again this year, I had a suspicion/hope that they remedied the problem or their ways since then.  Apparently not.

HEY, I just downloaded an app that only asked for one permission… access the internet. Wow! That’s a freak in this day and age.

Here’s One Other Bandwidth Use Tricks:

Google Chrome lets you minimize data usage:

  • Chrome menu
  • Settings
  • (Advanced) Bandwidth management
  • Reduce data usage


Resources:

Others With same or Similar Observations:

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