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Stop Android 4.3 from always scanning for Wi-Fi networks

If you don't want Google using your device to constantly scan for Wi-Fi networks, even with Wi-Fi turned off, you need to read this.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android 4.3 didn't bring many user-facing features to the latest iteration of Jelly Bean. There's the new dial-pad autocomplete that was long over due, and some under the hood improvements like Bluetooth Low Energy. There's another feature you may be surprised to hear about. Starting with Android 4.3 your device will continuously search for Wi-Fi networks, providing better location information, even if you have Wi-Fi turned off.

This isn't going to sit well with everyone, and thankfully Google included a way to disable the feature, it's just a bit hidden.

  • To disable Wi-Fi scanning always available on your Android 4.3 Jelly Bean device, launch the settings app and tap on the Wi-Fi option under wireless & networks.
  • Next, tap on the menu button in the lower-right hand corner and select "Advanced" from the list.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET
  • You should then see "Scanning always available" with a checkbox next to it. Uncheck the box and your device will no longer scan for networks at all times. Of course if you change your mind, just come back to the same screen and check the box.

There may be some benefits, such as better location accuracy by leaving this feature enabled, but I'm glad Google let users make the decision. Even if you have to dig around to find the settings.