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Named “Datally,” the app tracks and limits the amount of data used by other apps on a mobile device. It lets users turn off all apps running in the background and turn them back on individually. The app also includes a directory showing the nearest sanctuaries offering public Wi-Fi.
No word yet on whether the app will make it over to iOS.
This is by no means a new feature to smartphones, in fact, users can already find and adjust the same data from their phone’s settings. But with its clean interface and large icons, Datally simplifies the process, giving everyday users a dedicated space free from the daunting charts, numbers, and settings you’d find in similar apps or buried in the OS. How effective is it? Google claims Datally is already saving some users 30 percent of their data.
How to use Datally
The first thing you see when you open Datally—after you’ve approved plenty of permissions and allowed it to use a virtual private network (VPN)—is a big icon showing your real-time data usage. If you’ve been browsing on Wi-Fi all day, expect that number to be around zero. However, if you’re streaming movies and music on LTE, don’t be surprised if it rises to several gigabytes.
Below your data usage is an icon that lets you swipe “Data Saver” mode on and off. This is the main feature of the app. When it’s off, the app does nothing but track your data consumption. When it’s on, Datally will start restricting your apps from transmitting data—at least, those that don’t have explicit permission. When I turned the mode on using an LG V30, the app blocked data from 71 apps, shutting down all but a few required services, like Android OS, Google Play, and Google Home.
If you need specific apps to run in the background, say Slack or Facebook, then you can grant them individual access by selecting “Manage data” on the main page. That icon takes you to the heart of Datally, where a clean graph shows users their hourly, daily, or weekly data consumption. Below the graph is a list of apps and the amount of data each uses. Pressing the lock icon next to each app will either prevent them from transmitting data or grant them the ability to run in the background.
Additionally, Datally will direct you to the closest place with public Wi-Fi. Just select “Find Wi-Fi” on the main page, and you’ll be shown a list of cards with locations (restaurants, event centers, etc.) and whether their Wi-Fi requires a password. Once you decide where you want to connect to, Datally will send you the quickest route to get there using Google Maps. It’s a neat little tool, though you have to wonder if listing all the places without a Wi-Fi password is a good idea in terms of security. We recommend you follow these five tips for keeping your device protected or avoid open Wi-Fi altogether.
Datally’s limited functions and hands-off approach is aimed at everyday users, not those who like to micromanage their data consumption, so if you like fiddling with settings, this isn’t the app for you. However, if you find yourself stressing over your cell phone bill (who doesn’t) then Google’s new app is a simple and effective way to keep those data premiums down.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.