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Google launches Datally App for saving data usage, finding WiFi; 2 years too late

Google has launched Datally, an app which helps users track their mobile data usage and reduce data consumption. The app allows users to track their data consumption on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis, and get personalised recommendations on how to save data. More importantly, it allows users to stop background data usage, and track real-time data usage for each app, and stop data usage with a tap. According to the company, their tests in the Philippines suggest that users can save up to 30% data. What’s really strange is that the app needs a VPN to block data. We’ve written to Google for a clarification regarding why they need a VPN for blocking data, and how users who use VPNs already on their mobile phones can use Datally. What’s also curious is that, at one level, the app says that “Don’t worry, we don’t inspect your app traffic’, and at another, it’s meant to track app traffic, and needs a VPN to route usage through.

I’ll tell you what Google should launch: a privacy manager app for Android.

Late to the party, but better is better

Google’s really late to the party: data saving apps have been around for a while, and some are even coded into operating systems. Times Internet launched SmartApp in 2016, which did exactly the same thing, and had a realtime data usage counter, data consumption patterns, and a data saver. It didn’t have WiFi tracking though. That said, looking at the terrible reviews SmartApp seems to have gotten on the Play Store, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be competition for Datally. Most of the complaints for Smartapp, it seems, appear to be around the wallet feature it had, and the recharge option that it discontinued. It also has a speed test feature, which Google might want to consider, given that much of Datally has features “inspired” by others. The WiFi finder feature was perhaps inspired by Facebook. Note that Xiaomi also has data management features built into their app, and have had this for years, which again allow you to track data consumption, block data for certain apps, issue a warning when data consumption has breached certain limits set by you.

This app launch also comes a bit late in day for India, which has seen data prices fall dramatically since the launch of Reliance Jio. For post-paid users, some operators like Airtel are carrying forward unused data for customers, up to a maximum of 200 GB. A year and half ago, when data prices were exponentially higher, this app might have been useful. I wonder how many people today watch their data usage as closely as they did a year and half ago. It might be useful for other markets, where data costs are substantially higher, though.

On a positive note, the app is very well designed – in a way, the look at feel is reminiscent of the design of another recent app from Google: Tez.

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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