I can’t say it enough: the rate at which app updates pop up on Android is alarming. It was on Thursday that I updated some

The Curse of Android App Updates

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Android App Updates

I can’t say it enough: the rate at which app updates pop up on Android is alarming. It was on Thursday that I updated some apps. This Saturday morning, I woke up to find 7 new updates waiting for me. Some of those apps that were updated days ago were on the new update list. To make matters worse, there are few Android apps that are small in size. 6MB. 13MB. 20MB! Update 7 apps of 6MB each, and your 100MB data allocation for the month is half eaten from just one update session. Multiply that by four, and….

So, what can you do about this?

Fix Your Own Update Cycle

You can determine that regardless of the number of update notifications you receive monthly, you will update only once. That will take care of multiple updates for the same app and the consequent data consumption.

Uninstall Unused Apps

If you are an app junkie and have lots of apps installed on your device that you really do not use, every update of those apps cost you precious bandwidth – for apps that you do not use! D’oh! Uninstall them.

Stick With Only One Android Device

If you use multiple devices, make sure that only one is Android. Whether its multiple phones, or a phone and tablet combination, if the update cycle and bandwidth consumption is an issue to your purse, then be smart and keep just one of those devices as Android. Two Android devices will mean double wahala.

What Else?

The above two tips will help you somewhat keep data consumption down with regards app updates on your Android device. Alternatively, you can pick up a… cough…cough Nokia Belle or BlackBerry OS 7 smartphone. Those don’t run app updates every other day, and the apps are much smaller in size. You should be able to keep within your data allocation more easily with those. Then, there is the option of getting a feature phone.

So, tell me, how do you cope with the crazy update cycles on Android?


  1. Unfortunately I have a Galaxy Note 2 and A Galaxy tab 8.9 with similar applications installed in the 2. On top of that, I am both an update and application junkie. However, the trick I use is that I update on one device, use App Backup Restore to extract the apk which I then transfer via WiFi direct to the other device and then manually install it.
    That way I avoid double update.
    Despite this I still guzzle a lot of data (over 8GB) in a month.

  2. most times when I see a update I read the what’s new section to see the changes the update brings. if it reads bug fixes and I know I have never experienced such bugs I don’t update, also if it says fix crashes for galaxy SIII I don’t bother, I use HTC.

  3. This post is quite sensational (curse? Really?) couple of things that were missed out.. Since mid last year Google enabled delta update aka smart updates which allows for only the incremental difference (a.k.a. the delta) between the old and new apks would be sent over the wire, thereby saving huge amounts of data for both Google and Play Store users. What this means is if you have Facebook app which is about 8mb in size.. If the application is updated most times the updates are minor bug fixes or add little features Google Play won’t download the whole 8mb but rather only the part of the app code that was changed or the part of the apk that got code changes usually less than 20% of the whole size.. Hence the update for an 8mb app might just be 1mb or even less.

    Another thing not specified is how you can configure your Google Play Store to only update when on wifi which allows you to update using the work network or any wifi network you have access to without using your data. You can always disable play store notification all together (after all if it’s works and ain’t broken why fix it) that way you won’t be bothered to be notified..

    If there is a infinite number of parallel universes, in non of them is app update a curse. If you have limited bandwidth then cut your coat to your pocket.. Disable app updates and number of applications you have (you can’t have it both ways) application updates are always a good thing has it shows a rapid pace of development and most updates help fix critical security holes and generally improves awesomeness.

  4. Emmaedeh and Austin’s strategy are cool.

    With “incremental updates” now implemented by Google Play, I do not think those updates consume significant amounts of data.

    besides, you can set up your device such that you are never auto,_notified of updates, if it bothers you.

    I actually use aTrackDog to manually notify me of available updates, when I choose to check. AppWatch and similar apps can also help you monitor updates to specific apps in which you are interested.

  5. With “incremental updates” now implemented by Google Play, I do not think those updates consume significant amounts of data.

    Sorry, but incremental updates haven’t made a huge difference. From my current update information, take a look at the following apps:

    – OliveTree Bible Study is 18.86MB. Current update is 16.22MB
    – Dropbox is 7.12MB. Current update is 5.73MB
    – Words With Friends: 18.40MB. Current update is 13.40MB

    As far as I can see, incremental updates hasn’t lived up to expectations.

  6. I was going to say same Mr Mo!These Android guys just keep churning huge increaments in the name of updates.On thursday my avast anti virus/anti thieft gave an update.again another update an hour ago,same goes for whatsapp.wow!

  7. The annoying part is that most of the time this updates don’t bring any noticeable significant improvement

  8. While I’m in agreement with Emmaedeh (I check what the updates really mean) I have to agree with Mr Mo and disagree with bigbrovar regarding Android apps'”incremental updates”.
    While a 4MB saving on an update may seem incremental, this is cancelled when you end up updating the same app again the next day, whether it’s over WiFi or via mobile data. And update the same app several times in a month.

    On my tablet, I have the space for these so-called “incremental” updates. On my current phone with significantly less space I pass unless it’s an essential update

  9. … Update 7 apps of 6MB each, and your 100MB data allocation for the month is half eaten from just one update session. Multiply that by four, and….

    Surely the above statements are there for sensationalism, all the networks now offer at least 200MB for their N1000 monthly plans.

    And Mr. Mo, you are a nagger. Nokia are not producing enough Symbian devices, Android manufacturers are producing devices at a killing rate, Android manufacturers are not updating their firmware frequently, there are few options in the Windows Phone world, and now Android apps updates rates are killing. Haba! Mr. Mo, you are too naggy. Just how frequent is good enough for you? And for Pete’s sake, apps updates are optional. You can always ignore and you are not even reminded a second time until another update is due and you can turn off updates reminder as pointed out by someone and dwell in you own world without reminders.

    You get the updates, you complain that they are to frequent and you don’t get them, you are still complaining about lack of them. You are more difficult than women.

  10. I have to admit the update thing is a bit of a headache, I had this one app *cough badoo* that had an update every passing day, which I always updated only to see another by the morrow. Back then I was still a newbie. now with ROM/zip flashing as one of the things I could do with my eyes closed. I now have learned to ignore updates for apps that I don’t use daily, check the change logs for frequents apps to change my need for the update or schedule updates for only when am at a free WiFi hotspot.

    but on a serious note certain apps can be a pain, like loaderDroid an amazing app plagued with frequent updates in which changes are barely noticeable.

  11. simple, my apps/market set to manual… I only update after reading ‘whats new’ & seeing tis important

  12. I really don’t see the issue here. If you don’t like updates disable it.. If you think it would cost your little data then disable or read the changelog and only install security updates and bug fixes that affects you. Either way it’s not the problem of the developer that we have messed up data plan in this country.. If I was a developer and I see a bug I need to fix I go ahead and do it.. Won’t worry my head that someone in Congo or Nigeria has little Internet to take my updates.. The idea is to improve the app and how it works on 1000s of devices of different shapes screen sizes and hardware configuration.. If app update is a curse to you. Simple disable it.. “curse” lifted 🙂

  13. “If I was a developer and I see a bug I need to fix I go ahead and do it.. Won’t worry my head that someone in Congo or Nigeria has little Internet to take my updates”


    Bigbrovar it goes back to what I have repeatedly said; these products are not designed in nor for developing countries. You want to use the device, fine, but it’s done to developed world standards, not developing world constraints. Tough but the truth!

    However that doesn’t take away from the fact that the constant updates are a pain. I don’t mind upstaging once a week, but almost every day? In that case, shouldn’t they just pull the app, fix it and bring it back?

  14. @Noni
    Well I wouldn’t say that. Off all the mobile OS out there Android has been the most accessible to emerging markets. The open source nature of the OS has allowed small oem (mostly in China) to create mid entry phones at very affordable prices.. Today enter computer village you will see android phones for as cheap as 10k brand new.. Techno now seems to be the king of the hill and everyone knows a friend’s sister’s brother who owns a galaxy pocket.. All this issue of update don’t really bother average users many of who just use their device and have learned to ignore the updates. At the end of the day it’s us gets that always find it irresistible to ignore the update notification :p.. Increasingly though we would have to fight for better data plan because as the world goes more and more cloud computing.. We won’t really have much choice than to step up.

  15. Different viewpoints and everyone has something valid to say. Once tweeted: “@KayAkinrelere: I’m sure #telcos will thank God for the day #android was born. Data Guzzler!”
    And frequent app updates or not, telcos are smiling to the bank cause of android.

  16. I have 3 androids phones in total and a total of 64 applications there was a month I used 4.5gb and over 3gb was used to update one application or the other. infact it is killing. Well I’ve learnt a good lesson from that month what I did was to un install all duplicate applications and all the applications I’ll not use in the next 48hours now I have around 15 left. I think this is good option.

  17. Bigbrovar, Chinese inexpensive Android phones don’t take away from the fact that Android (and likewise the iPhone) use data in a way Nokia feature phones never did. And as Kayode has rightly said, the telcos are laughing all the way to the bank.

    So long as we still have erratic and unreliable 3G networks, LTE and cloud computing is for those with deep pockets and a strong disposition.

  18. Indeed, Android apps updates are a pain in their irritating frequency. One has to update apps EVERYDAY! Is Google aware of it? Can the coming Key Lime Pie 0S fix it once and for all?

  19. In my world, updates are a good thing. The problem lies with our ISPs and their pricing. I pay more for slower, less reliable Internet in Naij than I ever did in the US and that needs to change, fast.

  20. Of cause android uses more data than Nokia *feature phones* the same way a car uses more fuel than a motorcycle. Android does way more and was developed to be an always connected device doesn’t mean you can’t use it offline or use it with a decent data plan you just have to be conscious how you use your device. The person who claim to use 4GB is unbelievable. I mean I subscribed to a 7.5GB plan and had 3gb rolled over from my previous plans yet I have just used 1.8 gb so far out of 10gb plan 15 days into the month 100mb was used by playstore (for app installation and updates) I don’t know how possible it is to use 4.5gb on updates unless u have 10% of all the apps in the play store installed beside games most play store apps are less than 4mb and most update has like 60% of the app original size so really I don’t know how one can use 4gb on updates.. Probably something sinister is at work here.

  21. What I do is, before any update to apps, I go through the What’s New log, if there aren’t plenty significant changes I aint updating.

  22. Errmmm…much ado about nothing. The updates are optional. Simple. If you don’t want to update, take a pass. Are we now complaining that android developers are too hardworking? Isn’t it good that they strive to maintain excellent apps?

  23. I only update an app on my tablet when it brings something significantly new to the app else I don’t just bother.

  24. It time to have a good review of Apps and App stores are being flooded with large number of apps and every thing is not up to the mark. Its veri difficult to identify whats technically wrong with Apps and eventually this is creating issues in the devices.

    Another reccomendations are before downloading

    1) Look at genuine user reviews in detail
    2) Look at specifications
    3) Give review feedbacks for the Apps

    After downloading

    1) Go through the settings ensure App is secure and validate update details,back ground running details etc

    2) Most importantly – remove apps which are not required

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