It's unfortunate that we need to keep track of our mobile data usage, but that's just the way it is. Today, I had the need to add a 4GB tethering plan to my AT&T wireless account due to terrible coffee shop WiFi. Now each month, I'll have the joy of seeing an item labeled "Smartphone Tethering - DataPro 4GB..." for $45. I'm not thrilled, obviously, but I need a reliable connection for my business. The wireless carriers count on this, I'm certain.
There's no effective way to keep track of your data usage outside of using software to help you. Onavo is the perfect app for the task. It allows you to specify what your maximum data cap is, set warning levels when a specified percentage of usage is reached, and an option to automatically disable mobile data to prevent overages.
Apps like this are usually very geeky and have a lot of function but no style. Onavo has both. It does what it needs to do, giving users all of the features required and more, and it looks great, too.
The data that Onavo provides is very useful. What is surprising to me so far is just how little data I actually use for most things. I've always considered myself a data hog, requiring fast connections without limits. It has only been a day, however, so we'll see how it looks a month from now.
Smartphones can be too smart sometimes. They have many apps installed that want to be your little digital slaves, grabbing data just for your convenience. This is usually much appreciated, but probably only on WiFi if you have a capped data plan. Onavo has a feature called App Watch that points the finger at apps and services you have installed that waste your valuable data. This feature alone could be a useful app, but they've been kind enough to build it in to Onavo.
The reporting features help to size you up against other uses. Users can share this info on Facebook or Twitter to warn other users of offending apps. It's important to keep in mind that you should still interpret the data given your habits. If Onavo reports that the Facebook Mobile app is hogging your data, be sure it's not because you spend 8 hours a day uploading photos and videos from your smartphone. If you do, you're the data hog.
Given what I've seen so far, there are some great checks and balances in how this app protects you from wiping out your data, especially when a rogue service sneaks up on you. I can't recommend this app enough for those with capped data. If you enjoy paying overages because you're the type that walks through dark alleys with hundred dollar bills hanging out of your pockets, that's ok! There's just enough data in Onavo to make it compelling for you as well.