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There are a lot of apps in Android which act differently depending on the internet connection. Such as apps which auto-upload photos to the could only when connected to Wi-Fi, and not when connected to broadband on a smart-phone.

Unfortunately, when such apps connect to a mobile hot-spot (limited data; tethering), they think it is regular (unlimited data) Wi-Fi, and work accordingly.

Is there any way for a tablet to notice when a Wi-Fi connection is from a mobile hot spot, and act as if it was connected to broadband?

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If your tablet (or phone) devices are Android version 4.1 (or newer) then you can tell them that a particular wifi connection is a hotspot rather than broadband, which will let apps know that they should limit the traffic they use.

On the Android 4.1+ devices, if you go into Settings -> Data Usage and then press Menu (or press the "..." overflow button) you should see an option called "Mobile Hotspots".

Data Usage Menu

In here should be a list of all the wifi networks that the device has connected to recently, with a tickbox alongside that you can select to say that the network is actually a mobile hotspot. This tells your phone to treat that wifi network as if it is a mobile data (eg 3G) network instead of a broadband connection.

Mobile hotspots

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  • Sorry for O.T... but ooooh... American Airlines do Wifi on board? :o Since when? :D
    – t0mm13b
    Aug 2, 2013 at 14:38
  • Just to "unconfirm": I checked with 4.0.3, the option described is not there. So it really seems to have been introduced with 4.1. @t0mm13b that could also be the boarding area on some airport. Or the network for pilots who are tired sitting in the cockpit, wanting some comfortable first-class seat, and decided to remote-control the plane #D
    – Izzy
    Aug 2, 2013 at 15:36
  • @Izzy LOL! "oops I banked too hard, pressed to hard on remote control - whoops, sorry, at least sick bags are present!!!!" :D
    – t0mm13b
    Aug 2, 2013 at 15:38
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    @t0mm13b that'll be from an airport lounge (probably the Admiral's Club lounge at Heathrow as it looks like it was supplied by BT), I've got a lot of those sort of saved connections on my phone, done a lot of business travel in the last year... but I haven't been on a plane with wifi yet, unfortunately, so no liveblogging of pilot's mistakes from 40,000ft!
    – GAThrawn
    Aug 2, 2013 at 16:43
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In addition to the explicit option GAThrawn points out, Android 4.3 devices can automatically tell that a hotspot generated by another Android 4.3 device is a mobile hotspot, with the same effect as ticking that box yourself. Note that both the hotspot device and the receiving device must be running 4.3 (or later).

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  • I connected my Nexus 7 tablet [Android 4.3] to my Galaxy S3 [i747; Cyanogen 10.1.2; Android 4.2.2] and the mobile hotspot was already selected.
    – lamcro
    Aug 7, 2013 at 20:06

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