Earlier today, Google launched a new app called ‘Datally’ to help you understand where your mobile data is consumed, while also letting you manage and save data. Besides being able to track data usage in real-time, the app also offers personalized recommendations on ways to save data. Datally will also notify you about Public Wi-Fi hotspots that may be available nearby. The app is available on Google Play Store and compatible with Android smartphones running Lollipop 5.0 OS and above. I downloaded the app to give it a try and here are my first impressions. Also Read - Happy Father's Day 2021: Google Doodle wishes dads with cute pop-up greeting card
App size and features
Datally app is just 5MB in size, and even after installing, the total size is under 15MB. After you open the app, the top half shows you the data usage of the day. You then have a toggle switch to setup and activate ‘data saver’ mode. Under this toggle switch, you have two icons – one to ‘Manage Data’ and other to ‘Find Wi-Fi’ hotspots nearby. Also Read - Google might be working on a 'Find My' network clone for Android users
When you click on Manage Data, you get a graph of your data usage pattern throughout the day, in a graphical form. You can even check your data usage for this week and for the month, which will give you an estimate of how you use the data. And just above this, you get the list of apps and their data usage. As you can see, in the above screenshot, I have used 304MB data for the day, out of which Instagram has consumed 37MB data, Facebook has consumed 17.8MB data, and so on. At the bottom, the app also shows you the number of apps for which mobile data is blocked.
Now, just besides each app, you also see a ‘lock’ icon, which basically indicates that background data usage has been blocked. You can manually control individual apps, and tap on that lock icon to unlock it, and thus allow background data refresh. I will talk a bit more about the same in a bit.
The next option is ‘Find Wi-Fi’ where Google has a list of Wi-Fi networks that are available nearby. Say, for instance, you are looking for a café or so to access Wi-Fi, those places will be listed here. Just besides the name of the place, you will see a link for ‘Get Directions,’ clicking on which, will open Google Maps. It will show you your location and the place so you can navigate your way to the place where Wi-Fi network is available.
How will Datally help?
One of the most common problems with most apps on Android is that they consume a lot of data in the background. When mobile data network is active, your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feed will be constantly refreshing, and also looking for notifications. While this is good, because it enables you to get-real time notifications, it also consumes a good amount of data.
Say, your friend comments on your Facebook post, or likes your Instagram photo, you will instantly get a notification for the same. So, the next time you open the app, all the notifications will already be sitting there, and no fresh data will be consumed. But with mobile data still expensive for a lot of smartphone users, and also in the emerging markets, Datally helps save unnecessary usage.
Those running Android 7.0 Nougat and above, do get an option to block background usage. However, to do this, users have to manually go into Settings > Apps > Select the app > Data Usage and then turn off background data. Doing it for a couple of apps is still fine, but when you have a lot of apps installed, doing it for each and every app will be a task. And this is exactly where Google aims to help with Datally app. It lists all the installed apps and you can control background data usage simply by tapping on the ‘lock’ icon.
When it comes to having greater control over your smartphone’s data usage, savvy users can still manage to dig deeper and sort things out. However, we have the next billion users that are upgrading from feature phones to smartphones, and for them, these advanced controls are alien territory.
With Datally app, Google is giving users an easier way to track and control their mobile data usage. And because the app is straightforward, it is easy for everyone to understand. Sure, cutting off background data will hurt your Android experience, and you will no longer receive notifications in real-time.
But it is good for users who are on limited data plan, and as soon as they connect to the Wi-Fi network, the app notifications will get refreshed, thus help them save on mobile data. Having daily, weekly and monthly stats in front of you is added advantage as it will also give users an idea if they need to switch to a higher data plan. Initially, after installing, I was wondering why I would want a separate app to restrict background data, but looking at how easy it is, it now makes a lot of sense.