Data freeze is on, but some apps don't recognize that, I guess

I’ve had this problem twice now. One was when we couldn’t afford internet, so I relied on 1 gig of data and added as necessary so we could save as much money as we could. I would play Tiny Tower here and there so i wasn’t tempted to use up data to surf the internet. To play Tiny Tower, you don’t need internet, but you do need it to enter their raffle drawings or whatever they are called. I accidentally clicked on the button and it used up a little data even though I had data freeze on. It made me curious because it said I had entered the drawing instead of telling me that I wasn’t connected to any network. I proved this problem in a previous help ticket by taking a screen shot of the data info in the Republic app before and after I used the raffle feature again. Granted, it wasn’t a ton, but still that shouldn’t be happening with data freeze on, right?

(And btw I believe what RW told me after I submitted a help ticket for this, was just try not to use that portion of the app. Case closed. Maybe there’s no solution??)

Second is the Skylight app. It’s a companion app with those Skylight wifi picture frames. My daughter got into the app while we were out and about and started playing videos from it…(videos that we had put on the frame that you can also access there). We weren’t around wi fi and data freeze was on. That shouldn’t have been able to happen! Those pics and videos are on the internet, not my phone. I double checked that this was in fact the case…when I turn my phone’s actual data toggle off, the app tells me it can’t connect. So there’s just some apps that bypass the data freeze setting, I guess.

*But you shouldn’t turn off the actual data on your phone because Republic won’t work FYI to those who may not know that. You need to use data freeze. (learned this one the hard, and frustrating way).

Now we can afford wi-fi and it isn’t so much of an issue, but I really think this should be looked into so that others’ data is not eaten up without their knowledge. I know RW staff are busy dealing with other issues, but I thought I’d bring this one to light. Maybe there’s a setting on my phone that I’m not aware of that will prevent this problem, but as of right now, I don’t know of any. Just thought I’d share this so everyone can really pay attention to their data consumption.

(BTW I have a Pixel 3a phone)

That’s really bad behavior on the part of the App. The Data Freeze function uses a local VPN to control data flow. If an app is bypassing this it means it would also ignore a VPN that was being used for security reasons, potentially exposing user data. Not good.

Well, that’s terrifying. Is there anything that can be done?

hi @jennab.u1mf3x,

I’m not able to test this since I don’t have a Skylight device, but can you make sure the key symbol is showing at the top of the phone when the Skylight app is allowing cellular access to the photos and videos?

@jennab.u1mf3x,

Could you explain to me what a VPN really is, in simple terms? I thought I knew but after your comment I realized that maybe I don’t! Thanks for helping.

I will check into that and get back to you :+1:

Update: I did what you said and yes, there is still a key present. There was a key with Tiny Tower as well when I had the same issue.

I tested it out and sent a picture to my grandparents frame. Even with data freeze on (and a key present), a pic was still sent to them over the network.

I know I can just try to avoid sending pics when not on wi-fi if I want to save my data…it’s just that I’m hoping this isn’t happening to someone who is REALLY keeping tabs on their data like I was a year or so ago, without their knowledge.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network), builds a ‘tunnel’ or protected link from one Device to the Host server and data can flow to/from the device or the host, usually this is encrypted to provide security. This is probably what Skylight uses, and it displays a lock when the secure link is established. However, the Android code also provides the ability to set up a pseudo VPN where the key is shown, but no end to end connection is made (or used), this allows the developer to use some of the VPN’s functions and afik is what the Data freeze does.
You can have one and only one Active VPN (including the pseudo VPN) at a time, and this is what the Help Article is attempting to point out

ETA: AFIK, after using Skylight (or any VPN) you will need to re-enable Republics Data Freeze function

Sooo…the other day I had data freeze enabled, but the Starbucks app let me order coffee…
(I then tried to send a message, realized data freeze was on, turned it off - so it’s possible that the Starbucks app just pretended to process my order and didn’t actually do so until the data was on (though that would be weird) - I’ll have to test it out in the future. Doesn’t matter for data-saving purposes though, because it doesn’t show up as using any data…)

What kind of message were you trying to send? Data Freeze is designed to allow SMS/MMS.

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Thanks @jennab.u1mf3x,

I did write to the developers of the Skylight app, asking if they could provide any insight, but have not received any reply. I’ll also ask our app developers to take a look at this.

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WhatsApp

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So I can confirm that it is possible to successfully order and receive my Starbucks coffee with data freeze on, no WiFi connection at any point, (no measurable data use showing), the key showing at the top the whole time (and when I pull down my settings I can see it is connected to the Republic Wireless VPN). Once I get my coffee I still cannot send a WhatsApp message or navigate to webpages or use Discourse. Starbucks also said I was 11 miles away from the store the whole time - but still did my order. :woman_shrugging:

Hi @jennab.u1mf3x and @joanna,

Thanks for bringing this issue to our attention. Our app team has become aware that a difference between Android 11 and previous Android versions allows some apps to fail to be blocked by Data Freeze. They are investigating to determine whether a solution is possible.

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Great! Thank you. There is no rush from me at all. I know the team is busy with the new partnership and the pandemic has set people back in many ways so no worries. But I’m glad I could bring this issue to your attention.

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