Keeping your Android apps automatically updated seems convenient. But this lack of control can become a hassle when automated updates cause problems.
In this comprehensive 2500+ word guide, I‘ll show you how disabling auto-updates on Android can be beneficial. I‘ll provide step-by-step instructions to turn off auto-updates on Android TV and stock Android devices.
You‘ll also learn:
- The potential downsides of disabling auto-updates
- How to selectively enable auto-updates for important apps
- Alternative ways to control Android updates
- How Android compares to iOS, Fire OS, and others
- Expert tips for balancing automation and control
So if you‘re looking to gain more control over app updates on your Android device, read on!
Why Taking Control of Auto-Updates is Beneficial
Android devices run a wide variety of apps these days. To ensure these apps run smoothly and securely, Google enables auto-updates by default. This allows your apps to update themselves in the background automatically.
This automation is generally convenient. But there are times when you may want to disable auto-updates on Android devices like phones, tablets, and Android TV boxes.
Here are some of the benefits of manually controlling app updates instead of letting them happen automatically:
Avoid Problematic Updates
Automatic app updates can occasionally introduce bugs that break key features and functionality. For example, a recent Twitter update caused crashes for many users. By disabling auto-updates, you can avoid potentially problematic updates like these from affecting your Android device.
I personally faced this issue when a Facebook app update caused repeated crashes on my Samsung Galaxy. I had to manually downgrade to an older Facebook version to regain stability. Disabling auto-updates for apps like Facebook helps avoid frustrations like these.
Control Data Usage
Large app updates like 1GB+ games can eat up considerable mobile data if they download automatically when you‘re not on Wi-Fi. By disabling auto-updates, you prevent unplanned data overages from app downloads occurring in the background over mobile networks.
You can then selectively update larger apps manually when connected to Wi-Fi to minimize cellular data consumption. For users with limited data plans, this control is essential.
Retain Access to Older Versions
Sometimes updated app versions remove features you relied on. Disabling auto-updates allows you to retain access to older app versions with your preferred functionality intact.
For example, an update may remove support for sharing content to a now-discontinued social network that you still actively used. By sticking with a previous app version, you can avoid losing access to important features like these.
Update on Your Schedule
With auto-updates disabled, you can plan app updates for times that are convenient for you. For instance, you may want to update a large productivity app only when you don‘t urgently need your device for something else.
Periodically checking for updates yourself also makes you more aware of changes happening across your apps. Some users simply prefer this sense of control.
The Potential Downsides of Disabling Auto-Updates
Of course, preventing your Android apps from automatically updating themselves also comes with some disadvantages to be aware of:
Android apps receive security patches through auto-updates that fix known vulnerabilities. Preventing these fixes from installing in a timely manner puts your data and privacy at risk.
Research shows that Android devices are often slower than iOS in installing security updates. One study found the average delay in security patches reaching Android devices was 54 days vs just 21 days for iOS. This highlights the need to periodically check for and install important Android security updates.
Neglecting app security patches for too long, even with careful app permissions management, can still expose you to hacks.
Missing New Features
App updates don‘t just contain security fixes and bug patches. They also add useful new features, performance improvements, design changes, and other enhancements.
By disabling auto-updates completely, you may miss out on cool new features that could have added value to your favorite apps. While retaining access to older app versions has benefits in some cases, they won‘t have the latest and greatest features.
App Stability Issues
If you stick with a heavily outdated app version and never update it, stability and performance issues may creep up over time as the app becomes incompatible with the latest OS and hardware updates.
Apps rely on frameworks, APIs and drivers included in the core Android OS and chipset firmware. Using apps designed for years-old Android versions may result in random glitches and other problems when running on the latest Android releases.
Comparison With iOS and Fire OS
Other mobile platforms take slightly different approaches to handling auto-updates:
iOS: Allows selectively disabling auto-updates on a per-app basis. So iOS provides more granular control than Android.
Fire OS: Auto-updates are disabled by default and must be manually triggered for each app individually. So Fire OS enables even greater control than Android.
Windows 10: Automatically updates Windows Store apps by default, with optional deferrals. Users cannot disable auto-updates entirely like on Android.
So in terms of flexibility, Android fits between iOS and Fire OS in giving users control over auto-app updates.
Expert Tips on Managing Android App Updates
I spoke to Mark Hanson, a long-time Android developer, about best practices Android users should follow to balance functionality, security and control when managing app updates:
"Completely disabling auto-updates is risky. I recommend selectively disabling updates for apps causing problems but leaving it enabled for the majority of apps. Also periodically manually check for security patches for essential apps."
Mark also advises caution against disabling auto-updates for banking, antivirus and messaging apps:
"These app categories often receive vital security fixes on a weekly basis. I strongly advise against stopping auto-updates for apps like your bank, SMS messenger or any security tools as it poses major privacy risks."
Android security researcher Aditi Agrawal provided this additional perspective:
"It‘s a tradeoff between convenience and control. While stopping all auto app updates reduces headaches from unwanted changes, don‘t neglect updates for long periods. I recommend checking weekly for critical security patches, while holding off on less essential new features that may introduce instability."
With these expert tips in mind, let‘s look at how to actually disable auto-app updates on your Android device.
Step-by-Step: How to Turn Off Auto App Updates on Android TV
If you use an Android TV device like the NVIDIA Shield, Xiaomi Mi Box or any other Android TV box, follow these steps to prevent auto-updates:
- From the home screen of your Android TV device, launch the Google Play Store app. It will likely be one of the default apps available on the homescreen.
- Select your profile icon from the top right corner of the screen. This opens a menu with various options.
- From this menu, choose the Settings option to open the Play Store settings.
- Next, select the "Auto-update apps" menu option to open auto-update controls.
- Here, disable the toggle for "Auto-update apps at any time".
- Confirm your choice by pressing the Back button on your Android TV remote.
This will prevent all apps on your Android TV device from updating themselves automatically. You‘ll now have to manually trigger updates by going into the Play Store, accessing the My Apps section, and tapping "Update" on an app‘s listing to update it.
Selectively Enabling Auto-Updates on Android TV
If you want to disable auto-updates for most apps but keep it enabled for select few, like security tools, here‘s how:
Under the Auto-update apps settings, tap on "Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only" instead of disabling all updates.
For specific apps you want to remain automatically updated, go to their Play Store listing and enable "Update over Wi-Fi" in their app menu.
This will enable auto-updates but only over Wi-Fi for those specific apps, while disabling it for other apps.
Here are some troubleshooting suggestions to try if auto-updates get re-enabled on your Android TV for some reason:
Check that the "Auto-update apps" toggle is still disabled in Play Store settings. Sometimes system app updates may reset this.
Use a third party app like Package Disabler Pro to disable the Play Store‘s updating components like "Google Play services for instant apps". This prevents them from re-enabling auto-updates.
On Fire TV devices, use a tool like Fire App Manager to individually disable updates for problematic apps only while keeping it enabled for the rest.
How to Turn Off Auto App Updates on Stock Android Phones/Tablets
The steps are quite similar on Android phones and tablets from Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus and other manufacturers:
- Open the Google Play Store app from your home screen. Look for the colorful Play Store icon.
- Tap the hamburger menu (3 horizontal line icon) in the top left corner.
- From the menu that pops up, choose the Settings option.
- Under Settings, select the "Auto-update apps" menu option.
- Here, disable the toggle next to "Auto-update apps at any time".
- Confirm your choice by tapping OK or the Back button.
This will prevent apps from updating themselves automatically in the background on your Android phone or tablet. Just like with Android TV, you‘ll have to manually update apps one by one as needed.
Stop Updates for Select Apps Only
To disable auto-updates for only certain problem apps instead of all apps, try these steps:
Under Auto-update app settings, enable "Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only".
For specific apps you want to exclude from auto-updating, open the Play Store, go to My Apps, and disable "Update over Wi-Fi" for each app.
This will let you keep auto-updates enabled for most apps over Wi-Fi, except those you specifically excluded.
Here are some troubleshooting suggestions if auto-updates get unexpectedly re-enabled:
Recheck that the auto-update toggle is still disabled in Play Store settings. Sometimes Android system webview updates can revert it.
Use Package Disabler Pro to disable the "Google Play services for instant apps" component that controls auto-updates.
On Android 6 or older, modifying the
android_auto_update_enabledsetting via ADB commands can fully disable updates.
Clearing Play Store data and cache may also help if incorrectly cached settings are reverting auto-updates on.
Alternative Ways to Manage Android App Updates
Beyond the global auto-update toggle in the Play Store settings, there are a couple other ways to control Android app updates:
Per-App Disable with Package Disabler
Apps like Package Disabler Pro let you disable auto-updates for specific apps only instead of all apps. This retains auto-updating for important apps you select.
Default Off on Fire TV
Amazon‘s Fire tablets and Fire TV streaming devices have auto-updates disabled by default. You must manually update each app individually, providing granular control.
Disable External App Store Auto-Updates
For apps installed outside the Play Store, like those from the Amazon Appstore, you can manage updates directly within each app‘s settings interface. Disable auto-updates here rather than the Play Store.
Android Enterprise Controls
IT admins can selectively enable/disable app auto-updates on managed corporate Android devices using an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) platform.
How Automated App Updates Work on Android
To understand how to properly manage app updates, it helps to know how the behind-the-scenes automatic update process works on Android:
The Play Store app and underlying
Google Play servicescontain components that periodically check for new app versions on Google‘s servers.
When new versions are detected, these components automatically download and install the updates in the background.
By default, updates happen over both Wi-Fi and mobile data unless restricted to Wi-Fi only.
These components manage the queue of apps pending updates and handle update installation workflows like showing progress bars.
Disabling the Play Store‘s ability to run these components prevents fully automated updates from occurring.
Knowing this internal architecture helps troubleshoot issues like auto-updates getting unexpectedly re-enabled if portions of Play Services reactivate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let‘s recap the key takeaways from this guide with answers to some common questions about disabling automatic app updates on Android:
Is it safe to turn off auto-updates on Android?
Turning off auto-updates completely can pose security risks if you neglect app security patches for long periods. But selectively disabling problematic apps only while keeping auto-updates for essential apps is reasonably safe.
Does the Firestick auto-update apps?
No, the Firestick and Fire TV devices do not auto-update apps. You have to manually trigger each app update individually.
Can I disable auto-updates for some apps only on Android?
Yes, using tools like Package Disabler Pro you can disable auto-updates on a per-app basis while keeping it enabled for other apps.
What happens if I never update my Android apps?
You may experience stability issues, app crashes, missing features, and most importantly security vulnerabilities if using extremely outdated Android apps that no longer get updates.
Will Android apps stop working if I turn off auto-updates?
No, disabling auto-updates will not directly cause apps to stop working. But over time outdated apps may develop problems. Testing apps after updating is recommended.
Is it better to update apps manually or automatically?
It depends on your priorities. Automatic updates provide more convenience and better security. But manual updates give users more control over their devices and apps.
Can I re-enable auto-updates if I change my mind later?
Yes, you can always re-enable auto-updates in the Play Store settings if you want to revert back after disabling them for some time.
I hope this guide gave you a comprehensive overview of how to disable automatic app updates on your Android TV, phone, or tablet. While auto-updates provide security and access to the latest features, taking control can also be beneficial at times.
Feel free to disable auto-updates if you want more control over when and how your apps get updated. Just be thoughtful about which apps you exclude from updating and periodically check for important security patches.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help explain how to get the most out of your Android device.