Automatic WiFi Enabling: How To

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on November 13, 2017, How To Guides

Having a smartphone is awesome, having a smartphone without an internet connection isn’t. Most of us rely on our mobile internet service, which is fine except for two small issues: mobile data prices and battery draining. However, there is a fix for this problem if you know how to deal with it. We’re here to tell you all you need to know about automatic WiFi enabling, saving you money and precious battery power!

The Problem

Got a WiFi connection at home? Maybe at work too? That’s great since it means you won’t be using up expensive mobile data in the two places you frequent the most. However, keeping that WiFi switched on all the time can drain your battery. When you’re away from your normal WiFi connections but you don’t switch WiFi off then your phone is constantly searching for that WiFi signal, and that uses battery power. Okay, it’s only a little, but every little bit helps.

Maybe you’re smart and you turn your WiFi off when you’re out and about. But what happens when you forget to switch it on again? You use up mobile data when you could be using your free WiFi.

The answer here is to use automatic WiFi enabling, and there are a couple of solutions that will do the job of turning WiFi on and off as necessary…

The Easy Way

If you’re running the new Android 8.0 Oreo then there’s a simple fix here, since Oreo already has a setting for automatic WiFi enabling, though there is a caveat that we’ll get to in a moment. To access this setting, pull down your notification bar and long press the WiFi icon. Press “WiFi Preferences,” then toggle on the first option that says “Turn On WiFi Automatically.”

Your phone will then use your location services to determine when you’re close to your trusted WiFi networks (ones that you use regularly and have passwords stored for) and will automatically turn on WiFi when you’re in range of the signal. Sweet, right?

Oh, yeah, that caveat. So, whilst this is a simple solution, there is a small problem. Oreo can turn on your WiFi, but it can’t switch it off again. This means that you’ll still need to remember to switch off your WiFi when you leave home or the office to prevent battery drain. However, since that battery drain is pretty small, this could be a decent compromise option.

If you’re wondering about the second option you see in that WiFi menu that says “Connect to Open Networks,” it means that your phone will automatically connect to a trusted open WiFi network. Perhaps this is a hotspot from an operator, but it will be a network that Google knows about and trusts. There’s still some small risk of course, so the option to switch it on is up to you. If you live in a city and travel around a fair amount then this could be a good option for you though.

The Harder Way

Looking for a more complete solution? A solution that will both turn on your WiFi depending on your location AND turn it off when you’re out of range of that WiFi signal? Or maybe you’re running an older Android version and don’t have the automatic WiFi enabling option. Well, there is a solution for you too, but you’ll need to do a little more work.

First, download the free app called IFTTT. IFTTT (or “If This Then That”) is a nifty, though complicated, little app that allows you to set up conditional situations. For example, you can use the app to set up “If I’m in my office, then switch the phone to vibrate only.” This truly is a wonderful app and has many uses, though again, you’ve been warned, it’s not easy to use.

Fortunately, setting up WiFi and location settings is one of the simpler tasks on IFTTT. The way the app works is by setting up those above mentioned conditional statements, and finding what works and doesn’t work can be time-consuming and frustrating. Lucky for you though, some IFTTT users have already done the work for you and written “recipes” that allow you to do some of the more common things.

Simply go into IFTTT and search for “turn off WiFi when you leave home to save power,” and add that recipe to your list. Then do the same for “turn on WiFi when you get home.” You’ll need to set your home location (easy to do on the provided location map), but other than that, you should be good to go.

If you prefer doing things yourself (and you’re a bit more tech savvy) then choose “Android Location” as your trigger event, and then “Android Device” as your action event and scroll through the resulting menus until you find what you need.

Other Options

There are, of course, other options. IFTTT is only one app, though it’s our best free recommendation. If you’re willing to pay a few pounds then Tasker is another app that will do the same thing, and that has a slightly easier to use user interface.  Llama is another option, and is free, though it doesn’t have the handy map function that both IFTTT and Tasker have to set up locations, which can make things complicated.

Never Worry About Your Internet Again

Setting up automatic WiFi enabling is a great way to save battery power and save on mobile data too. In fact, if you’re especially skilled you can use the same IFTTT process to make your phone not only turn on WiFi when you get home but also to turn off mobile data as well. And the great thing is that once all this is set up and running, you’ll never have to think about it again!