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With every phone comes the decision about your data plan. Do you pay the steep premium for an "unlimited" plan, so that you can just use your connection worry-free as much as you want? Or are you committed to gamifying how much you use Wi-Fi instead of a cellular network to download, stream, and do video calls?

SEE: The best alternatives to the Google News mobile app in 2018

If you're in the latter camp with a set number of gigabytes that you can use before you get hit with overage charges, you might want to keep a close eye on how much data the Google News app uses on your phone. The Verge reports that a number of users are experiencing runaway data usage that's costing them a respectable amount of money in additional data charges.

According to posts on Google's product forums and Reddit, this issue may stretch as far back as June, and it doesn't appear to be caused by user error. A Google community manager responded to the forum discussion about one month ago, saying, The relevant teams are currently investigating and working towards a fix, and we'll be posting updates directly to this thread. We may also reach out if there is additional troubleshooting info that would be helpful in our investigation."

The company has not yet produced a follow-up. As far as we can determine, the issue appears to be specific to the Android version of Google News, so users with iPhones and iPads probably don't need to mess with their settings.

To check how much data Google News may be using on your Android phone, open your settings, search cellular data usage, tap the search result, and tap "Cellular data usage" again. This will list all your apps in the order in which they consume cellular data, and you'll see a chart indicating your total usage.

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Restricting background data usage in your Android system settings

Tapping the entry for an individual app will show you how much foreground and background data it uses, and you should have the option to disable background data. When you do this, you'll stop getting news notifications from the app, so you'll need to manually check for new articles, but it may be an effective stopgap until Google delivers a full-fledged fix.

You can use Google's Datally app to restrict mobile data usage on Android devices, but since it can't target specific apps, your best bet (short of uninstalling the Google News app altogether) may be to restrict background data in Google News' cellular data usage settings, as described above.

There is a setting within the Google News app to only download over Wi-Fi, but this does not appear to be working for all users.

Alternatively, you can try another news app, and we have a recent guide that will walk you through all of your options in detail. For Android users, Flipboard is arguably the best replacement, based on our experience.

Takeaways

  • Some users have been reporting for months that the Android version of the Google News app can inexplicably consume many gigabytes of data overnight, triggering substantial data overage charges. Telling the app to only download over Wi-Fi doesn't appear to stop the issue.
  • However, if you open your phone's settings and access the cellular data usage meter, you can restrict background data usage on a per-app basis there. This may address the problem until Google can get to the bottom of it and produce a patch.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.