App Review – Avoid Data Overages with DataMan Pro
Are you on a capped data plan?
Do you worry each month about data overages?
If you have an iPhone or iPad, then DataMan Pro may be your answer.
When I upgraded to the iPhone 5S, I switched from an unlimited data plan to a capped data plan. After a few weeks, I also discovered that I was using significantly more data than with the iPhone 4. I was close to exceeding my new cap and didn’t want to pay any data overage charges, so I needed a way to track my data use.
My carrier provides text alerts at set usage intervals, like 50%, 75%, and 100%. I enabled those first. After a couple weeks, I decided that I wanted more details and even thought that some type of data use forecasting would allow me to proactively adjust my data use rather than be reactive when I receive a text message from my carrier.
I read several reviews for data tracking apps and settled on DataMan Pro. The price was $4.99, but that is less than just one data overage charge, so I decided to give it a try. After several months of use, DataMan Pro is everything I expected, and more.
After a brief setup where you identify the start and end days of your billing cycle, the size of your data cap, and how much data has been used in the current cycle, DataMan Pro begins tracking your mobile and wifi data use. It runs in the background utilizing the background refresh feature in iOS 7.
DataMan Pro Features
DataMan Pro features settings for notifications at four adjustable levels. I matched my notifications to my carrier’s notifications to test accuracy. Unsurprisingly, the data tracking accuracy is excellent. I receive my carrier sourced text messages at nearly the same time as my DataMan Pro notifications.
Users are also able to customize the display of the main DataMan Pro screen and can choose the level of detail, background color, and font.
There are three settings for the level of detail to display on the main screen, minimal, standard, and detailed. I love statistics, so I set it to detailed. Standard shows the data used broken down by mobile and wifi. A total of mobile data use is displayed in the center with a larger percentage of the total cap displayed above. The detailed setting breaks out upload and download data totals, but is otherwise nearly the same as the standard setting. The minimal setting shows much less data, just a percentage of the cap and total data used. Not enough information for me, but a nice option for those that want minimal data.
Tapping on the main screen once displays my favorite feature of DataMan Pro, the forecasted use of mobile data for the current billing period. This tells me if my current use rate forecasts me exceeding the cap or will keep me under the cap.
DataMan Pro will also change the screen background color to different shades depending on the actual and forecasted data use. If the forecast puts you close to or over your limit, the background color will be different than if the forecasted data use is under the data cap. There are 18 different color themes, so everyone should be able to find one they like.
The final display option is the font for the text displayed on the main screen. Eleven fonts are available, including the standard Helvetica Neue. I haven’t settled on a font yet, but again there’s more than enough to choose from.
DataMan Pro also tracks how much data was used each hour and which apps sent or received data. The data is also rolled up for each day, so you can see which apps were active and the total amount a data used for the day by all those apps. That’s good information to have if you have an app that is using your mobile data when you’re not aware of it.
Shared Data Plans
There is not any functionality to sync between multiple devices that share a single pool of data. Some people might consider that a missing feature. However, I’m familiar with developing applications, and there’s not any real good, efficient method to perform that kind of real time synching. It’s not impossible and would be a great feature, but I don’t ever expect to see it. There are just too many issues with synching the data across devices in a timely and efficient (low battery use) manner.
I don’t feel that the lack of multi-device shared data synching should be of any concern because there is a simple solution already available. If I had a shared data plan, I’d use it myself. First, allocate a certain amount of data to each device based on typical usage. You can get this from your previous bills or from using DataMan Pro for a few months. Make sure that the total allocated is less than your cap. You could leave ½ GB (or some other amount) unallocated as a safety buffer. Set this value as your “Data Plan” amount in DataMan Pro. After that, all you need to do is ensure the users of the different devices do not exceed their limit and communicate when they are about to, so that excess data from another device (or the buffer) can be “reallocated”.
You might say a synching feature would be easier, and you might be right, but the potential inaccuracies, delays, and battery use involved in synching constantly across devices could be even worse. You might think there is more remaining data than actually exists for the billing cycle or you might quickly find yourself with a low battery due to the constant data transmissions to keep the other devices in synch.
Shared data tracking aside, this app does exactly what it sets out to do and does it with beautiful styling. At a glance, you can see your current and forecasted data use, then either rest easy knowing you are under the cap, or take action to use less data and stay under. personally, I check my data use just two or three times a week, and more often when I am forecasted to go over. I am very happy to recommend DataMan Pro for your mobile data tracking needs on iOS.
One final note, I use the iPhone version, but there is also a DataMan Pro for iPad version that takes advantage of the larger iPad screen.