Aug 31st, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

Control Your Data Usage With Onavo

A big thanks @odrop for pointing this one out to me this morning. Onavo is an app everyone will be interested in, because the buffet of all-you-can-eat data plans is slowing going by the way side. Most recently, Verizon deleted their $30 data plan for unlimited data, which has been a way of life for AT&T customers.

This is something that should concern you since, especially on Android, it is easy to have one or two background apps suddenly eat up your data limit. Luckily, there’s are some Android apps, like Onavo, to help you out with managing your data usage.

Now, I’ve traditionally been a big fan of My Data Manager, an application that has a lot of overlap with some of Onavo’s features. But Onavo (pronounced on-nah-voh) has a completely different feel than My Data Manager and, to me, will be a little less overwhelming for people to use.

Onavo can track and monitor your data usage.

Onavo tracks how much data you use, which applications are using the most data and can even given you a profile of your data usage. Obviously, tracking how much data you use overall is important to prevent overages, but the real data management begins when you learn which applications are using the most data. So, if you figure out that a certain application is updating every 5 minutes in the background you can adjust it to update every 10 minutes, or if you’re a big Pandora fan using apps like Onavo can remind you make sure your connected to Wifi first.

Onavo can display the data usage from an app over a period of time.

The best part of using Onavo is that it is simple to understand and set up — it literally doesn’t have a ton of options which is fantastic for people that do not use apps like this because they are “confusing.” Basically, the only option you need to set up is your data plan and the date of your billing cycle. From there, it will take a few days of usage for Onavo to populate how you’re using data. Onavo also allows you some degree of control over the types of notification you’ll receive and, if you’re really hardcore, the app will actually stop your phone from using your data connection once you’ve reached your limit.

Onavo can actually physically stop your phone from exceeding your data limit.

For tracking your data usage, Onavo is a solid application. However, Onavo’s best kept secret is data compression — a feature that, as of yet, isn’t enabled on Android (this feature is enabled on Onavo for iPhone and iPad). Data compression is exactly what it sounds like — it compresses your phone’s data into, and I’m not making this up, “Onavo’s Magical Shrinking Machine.” The result, is that you use less data over all, which, according to the developers, can in effect double or triple your data plan by saving the amount of data you’re sending. Sound cool, huh?

Onavo has settings you can change without the app being too complicated overall.

The bad part right now is that the Onavo that was just released for Android (Onavo Lite) does not include this data compression feature and is really just a data monitoring app. It is still a good, beautifully designed application and one that I’ll be keeping on my phone from now on… but I’m going to need some of that there data compression and fast; it just sounds like a feature too cool to pass up, and I know I can’t be the only one interested in it.

I e-mailed the developer of Onavo and asked them about data compression for Android and received an e-mail Guy Rosen:

Compression is not supported in Onavo Lite but we plan to add that in the future. As opposed to what we did on iOS, on Android we realized there was a bigger challenge when it comes to data usage. We call this the “data leakage” – the flip side of Android’s openness is that apps are free to use up mobile data without any accountability – even in the background! Just power up your phone and a hundred apps, even those you never use, could spring to life and eat up your data plan.

Onavo Lite makes it easy for you to finally understand what’s using up your data plan, so that you avoid expensive surprises. You get warned in real time about apps that are abusing your data in the background and can take action by restricting them to WiFi. Plus, we’re crowdsourcing all of this with the Onavo Android Community so that you can learn from others, and every time you download a brand new app you get an immediate note whether it may be problematic for your data plan.

Even without compressing data, a feature which is coming soon, we felt Android users urgently needed the control offered by Onavo Lite.


In short, data compression is eventually coming to the Android version of Onavo — which is an answer that satisfies me, and it’s a big plus that they’re receiving feedback from other Android users. I’ll be sure to keep you posted about Onavo and feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.

Free: Onavo


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