Mobile data isn't cheap. Most cellular service providers charge a hefty fee for limited data, and as soon as you pass that cap by just a single megabyte you're looking at overage fees. There's a fine line between under and over the cap, and if you're using a lot of data you need to track your use. DataMan Next is an iOS app designed to do just that, and now it's free.
SEE: How to set a cellular data limit to help avoid overages (TechRepublic)
How much data do you get per month? Does it roll over? Are you on a family plan that your kids are eating up with YouTube and Pokemon Go? There are a lot of ways you can burn through your monthly data allotment, and in many cases you may not even realize it.
DataMan Next is designed to give you an estimate of your usage with just a quick glance. The main screen of the app is simple to read and is color-coded to match how close you are to your usage cap. It also features a widget for the Today screen, so you don't even need to open the app to see where you stand.
On a family plan?
Let's pretend that your kids are the ones eating all that data playing Pokemon Go. If they (definitely not you) are playing heavily they're going to use around 20 megabytes an hour. That really isn't too much in the grand scheme of your data plan, but Pokemon Go and apps like it use data in the background too. If it stays running all day that data is draining away without your even realizing it.
Tracking data usage on a shared plan is important, and DataMan Next isn't the app for you if that's what you need. There's no direct link to your account with this app: you need to put in your monthly data limit and billing cycle for it to calculate your usage.
Since it's set up manually you're only tracking the data coming in and out of your device. Handy, but it won't tell you what other people are using or when your group plan goes over.
SEE: The decline of unlimited mobile data plans (TechRepublic)
Monitor your usage at a glance
I wrote previously about some of the most useful Apple Watch complications, and one of them I mentioned was DataMan Next. Now that the app is free it's an even better idea for Apple Watch owners who want to be sure they're staying below their cap.
Having the percent of data used visible right on your watch face is great, especially if you—I mean your kids—are eating up all that data chasing Pokemon around town.
Need to minimize your data use?
Cellular data is expensive. Those lucky enough to spend most of their time on Wi-Fi don't need to worry about going over, but road warriors and game players can be quickly at risk for overages.
Want to find out how to cut down on your device's data use? Check out this gallery of tips and tricks.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- If you use a lot of your cellular data while on the road DataMan Next may help. You'll need to set it up manually, but once you get it going you'll be ready to track your usage down to the megabyte.
- Share data with another device on your plan? DataMan Next isn't going to be your number one choice: it only tracks the data coming in and out of the phone it's installed on.
- A watch face complication makes the app more valuable for Apple Watch owners. The complication is simple and beneficial if you're concerned about going over your monthly cap.
- Avoid being ripped off by your mobile phone provider (TechRepublic)
- If you think mobile data use is high now, here's what you'll chew through by 2021 (ZDNet)
- Save money on mobile data with Google Fi (TechRepublic)
- Apple's iOS 9.3 adds a way to track cellular data use through Wi-Fi Assist (ZDNet)
- FCC authorizes airwaves for wireless use that will allow data delivery 10 times faster than today (LA Times)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.