How to block internet access for specific apps in Android

When travelling, using mobile data to access the internet can be costly, but you might still need some apps to be able to connect to it, even if not all of them. You might have a smaller data plan or you would just simply like to have more control over what apps can access the internet on your Android smartphone. Whatever your motivation, setting up a firewall that does exactly this, is not very complicated. Read our tutorial to learn how to use the Mobiwol app to block internet access for specific apps:

NOTE: For this tutorial we used a OnePlus One smartphone running CyanogenOS 13.1.1 based on Android 6.0.1. This version is very similar to the stock Android experience, so you should have no problem finding the settings mentioned here. If your device’s interface is heavily modified, please refer to the device’s user manual or the manufacturer’s support website for additional information.

Use a firewall like Mobiwol to block internet access for specific apps

First things first: Android doesn’t currently have a straightforward, built-in method to control internet access for specific apps. You could root your smartphone (which means that you get full access to the device), but that is usually rather complicated, dangerous and voids the warranty, so another solution is generally preferable. Fortunately there are apps in the Play Store like Mobiwol , that help you in this matter. If you need help installing an app from the Play Store on your Android device, read our tutorial , or check out how to install apps using your browser.

Mobiwol and other similar firewall apps work in the same fashion: they create a virtual private network ( VPN - you can read more about this in our article here ) and route all network traffic through this connection. After you turn the firewall on, you will see that this will be the only application using network bandwidth when you look at data usage in system settings, as all other apps work through it. The app has its own data usage meter, so you can of course still see which app uses the most bandwidth. Also, rest assured that the app doesn’t connect to any external VPN, everything happens locally, no external servers are used in the process.

How to block internet access with Mobiwol

Once you have installed Mobiwol, go ahead and launch it from your list of apps.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

To start up the firewall, tap the Firewall Status button in the main menu.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

You will need to confirm the VPN connection: tap OK to do so.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

From now on you will see a permanent notification, so you know that Mobiwol is active.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

By default, Mobiwol allows all apps to access the internet, so now it’s time to block access for specific apps. To do so, tap Firewall Rules in the app window.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

You will see the list off all apps with internet access. Find the app you want to block internet access for. To toggle access via mobile data, tap the mobile signal app near the app’s name.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

To toggle access via WiFi connections, tap the WiFi icon near the app’s name.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

When a particular connection type is disabled for an app, its icon will appear in black.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

How to block background traffic in Mobiwol

Many applications also connect to the internet and generate traffic while you’re not actively using them: this is background traffic.

You can also enable foreground-only mode for apps, which block this background traffic, so the app will be able to access the internet only when you’re actively using it. To toggle this feature, swipe right on the app’s name. The words “ No background ” appear in blue when it is active.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

How to block mobile traffic for all apps with Mobiwol

When you travel abroad or if you use a slim mobile data plan, it could be a good idea to disable mobile data access for all apps, then enable it for those you really need, or when you need it. To disable mobile data access for all apps, tap the three dots icon in the top right corner of the Firewall Rules screen.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

On the menu tap Mobile.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

Now tap Block all mobile. Note that this is not the same as airplane mode: that disables all communications for the device (including mobile, GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth), while this way you can selectively disable what you want.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

If you want to enable mobile data access for all apps, tap Accept all mobile instead.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

How to block background traffic for all apps in Mobiwol

Although limiting WiFi access for apps might not be a frequently needed thing, you may want to disable all background traffic. To do this, first choose Foreground / Background from the three dot menu.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

Then tap Block all background to disable background traffic for all apps.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

To re-enable background traffic for apps, tap Accept all background on the same menu.

Android, block, internet, access, apps, specific, Mobiwol

Conclusion

When it comes to smartphones, internet access is what makes them smart in the first place, but there are situations when you need to control all the data that is flowing through your device. If you have ever had huge smartphone bills because of data roaming, or struggled to send an email with very little data remaining on your monthly plan, you surely know what we are talking about. Although Android doesn’t have a built-in feature to exercise control over your apps’ data usage, there are applications like Mobiwol that offer a very simple solution to this problem. You don’t need any technical knowledge or training to reduce mobile data traffic and potentially save quite a lot of money during your holiday, while still being able to access the internet on your most important apps.