Mobility

Google releases its own data manager, Datally, to help keep Android users under their caps

Data managers are all over the Google Play store, but Google's new one may have you avoiding third parties. Privacy concerns still abound, however, even with Google as the app producer.

Google has released a new Android app called Datally, which helps users monitor data usage and stop background data from eating up monthly allotments.

It's not an original concept, but in true Google form it's much easier to use than other comparable Android data managers. The most important buttons are front and center, and toggling settings on and off is simple.

If you're on a limited data plan, getting ready to take a trip, or otherwise want to monitor which apps are transmitting data in the background Datally is worth a look.

Even better, it's from Google, so trusting it should be easier than one of the hundreds of other data managers on the Play Store.

Just a few taps

If you've used a data manager or saver app Datally won't blow your mind. In fact, it will seem pretty familiar, albeit with a new look and a Google-style interface.

Navigating Datally is simple. The homescreen shows how much data you've used today, has a button for managing your app data use and another button for finding nearby public Wi-Fi (complete with user ratings), and highlights on the bottom to inform you of usage trends and alerts.

SEE: Reducing the risks of BYOD in the enterprise (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The biggest feature is front and center: a toggle button that turns Data Saver on and off. Data Saver restricts any apps you haven't whitelisted from accessing the internet and tracks data use from whitelisted apps, allowing you to see if any of them is hogging your data.

Datally will also provide recommendations on cutting down your data use and show you how much data the active app is using in a small chat bubble-style popup. That same popup will allow you to stop the active app from using data too.

Privacy concerns?

Any app that promises to cut down on your data usage is going to spend a good deal of time monitoring what comes in and out of your device. Ideally this would be passive and only track the volume of data being used, but there are always questions, especially in light of the fact that three-quarters of Android apps contain secret trackers.

It's definitely easier to trust Google than it is a third party, but the way Google presents the permissions needed by Datally can make a user suspicious—they definitely made me pause for a moment.

SEE: Special report: Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (free PDF) (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)

Datally wants permission to send, receive, and read SMS messages, track your location, and access phone features that allow it to "determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call."

It also wants to set up a VPN in order to block apps from accessing the internet, which Datally ominously warns won't be used to inspect your web traffic.

It's up to users whether they trust Google to abide by the language used to assure users they aren't tracking them. Then again, the same goes for every other mobile app, all of which have access to the intimate details of your digital life.

You're better off trusting Google than anyone else in this case, but don't let your guard down if you don't need to.

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Image: Google

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

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.

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