Google is launching another stylish and simple Android app designed to help people manage one of the core functions of their phone — in this case, data usage.
The app is called Datally, and it’s supposed to help you understand where you data is going and cut down on how much you’re using. Datally will show which apps are using data the most and at what times your data is getting used up; it’ll also recommend ways to cut down data usage based on your own activity and suggest nearby Wi-Fi networks for you to connect to.
More importantly, there’s a big button at the top of the app that lets you stop all background data usage, so only the app that’s actively onscreen can use mobile data. A chat-head style bubble will also pop up to let you know how much data your currently running app is using up. And if you don’t want to block every single app from using background data, Datally will let you go in and control data usage on an app by app basis, too.
If you’re a longtime Android user, Datally might not sound all that exciting. Nearly all of the app’s functions are already built into Android directly. But those features are hidden inside the settings menu, and they aren’t spelled out quite as neatly as they appear to be inside Datally. As a standalone app, it’ll also be much easier for people to find and remember to use.
Datally is being released as part of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative, which is focused on making Google products more usable in countries that have limited mobile connections and where lower-end hardware remains widespread. That’s why the initiative is focusing on basic features like storage management — as with its last standalone app — and data usage. It’s also why Datally takes up a tiny 6MB of space.
Josh Woodward, the product manager overseeing Datally, says the idea for the app came from seeing the lengths that people go to preserve data, particularly in countries where mobile plans remain relatively expensive. In Delhi, Lagos, and Buenos Aires, Woodard said his team saw people who would keep their phone on airplane mode at all times to prevent data usage. When they wanted to check their notifications, they’d turn airplane mode off, let all the info rush in, and then turn airplane mode back on while they looked over the new information.
“A bunch of us on the team spent a lot of time on long flights observing people in their homes, bus stations, classrooms, and kept seeing this airplane mode behavior,” Woodward told The Verge.
Google has been testing Datally in the Philippines since this summer. The company says it’s already hit over 500,000 users and that it’s been able to save people, on average, 30 percent of their data. As of today, the app is being released to the rest of the world and is available to any phone running Android 5.0 or higher.
Obviously, if you can afford to use the extra data, you probably won’t want to use this app. Cutting off background data use will hurt your overall phone experience, as not only will apps not refresh content in the background, but apps won’t send you push notifications either (which means you wouldn’t be able to chat with someone over anything but SMS). But if you’re constantly bumping up against your data cap, Datally seems like an easy way to start figuring out where the problem is.