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Recently I noticed that even while no applications are actively running (at home screen), the up and down arrows under the WiFi status bar item are turning on/off. This is a recent change, and seems to have started after some automatic updates.

I've gone through and killed all the running processes (that allow you to kill them), and the behavior continues. I'm assuming it must be a system process that's causing this, but I can't for the life of me figure out which one or why.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 with KitKat 4.4.2, if that matters. And I've already tried restarting the device.

How can I determine what is causing the WiFi indicator to signal data is being transferred? I'm comfortable creating simple android applications, so a programming solution is an option.

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    You can go to Settings > Data Useage (under wireless), and there should be the option to see data used by WiFi. The device will 'check in' occasionally and those icons are not the most reliable guide at all for whether the data is sending / receiving. If you have ANY app that has push notifications it will send a heartbeat from time to time. This includes email, facebook, weather apps, google now, whatsapp, hangouts, kik, skype, viber, twitter, google +, photo synch, games etc. Also Google Play Store updates automatically on the device, so do Play Services... and it goes on. – RossC Nov 5 '14 at 14:24
  • Thanks @RossC. I've checked the data usage, and wasn't able to figure out which application specifically was causing the issue. I understand applications checking for updates, and the theory of a "heartbeat". The problem is, this didn't seem to happen before a week or two ago. I'd like to try and work out what's causing it, to determine if it's required or not. – Tester101 Nov 5 '14 at 14:48
  • Hmmm, you could try ttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mobidia.android.mdm&hl=en and see if it's any use. – RossC Nov 5 '14 at 14:51
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I use an application called “App Snitch” which monitors all network access and let’s you know what each app is doing. The Play Store link is HERE.

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I'd recommend you taking a look at the app OS Monitor (see my answer here). Next to the "usual process list" it also offers a view on open connections, which app holds them, and where they go to. As an app requires an open connection to transmit data, it must be listed there. Even if you "almost miss the end of transmission", the socket is usually still listed as CLOSE_WAIT for a little more time – so if you see the "transission arrows" and launch OS Monitor, you should be sure to see it there.

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