Not too long ago, Google launched Datally as an app that would help users exercise more control over how their mobile data is consumed. But it hasn’t helped much, and now the app has been updated with a number of new features to fix that. However, the solution is in plain sight but it is one that does not align with the interests of the powers that be. You see, to fix the data consumption problem, we need to discard always-on internet. Simple.
But let us start from where we are now. Datally’s new features include the ability to set daily data limits and show a map of nearby Wi-Fi networks. The problem is that a user on a limited plan who sets a daily data limit only creates a new set of problems – the phone uses up his data on things he does not want and he is left unable to connect to do the tasks he needs to do for the rest of the day.
The map of available Wi-Fi networks sounds good and dandy, but in the countries where mobile data is expensive – and which Datally is supposed to be primarily addressing – WiFi networks are not found everywhere you go.
Another new feature is that Datally points out the unused apps on your phone that could still be guzzling data so you can uninstall them. One, that an app is unused for a while does not mean it isn’t needed. Two, there are many apps in use that have no business consuming so much data, especially while in the background.
The summary is that Datally still does not solve the problem of users on limited data plans. It stops short of addressing the real issues. It skirts the matter, dancing so beautifully around it, teasing the mobile user but refusing to touch it.
Always-on Internet, Root of Data Consumption Problem
Android OS and iOS are always-on platforms. They require the device to be always connected. As long as this is the case, no amount of tweaking will change things. The solution is lying in plain sight, but Google depends on you being always online so much that they will do everything but implement it.
To swing the situation,the operating system needs to be offline by default and give the user the ability to decide how often and for how long they want to connect.
Allow users the power to set their phones to connect every 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes. Include the always-on option too for those who want it. Also make it default that in addition to that, any on-screen app automatically initiates a connection. That way, if I pick up my phone at any time and launch the Gmail app, there is an automatic connection for that app.
The Present Situation
The present situation with Android is that the phone is always online. Apps in the background are using your data, whether you like it or not. So, Google gives you a means of blocking this app and that. However, it is a tedious thing. You have to identify which apps to block – which is difficult enough for everyday users. While techies will find their way, it isn’t convenient either.
And you have to do it which each new phone you get. It isn’t a very user friendly solution at all.
Who Will Put The Power Back In The Hands Of Mobile Users?
To solve the data consumption problem of smartphone users, we have to change how smartphones work by default. Or more specifically, smartphone targeting users with limited data plans.
I am not advocating that always-on internet be eliminated; just that the option to turn it off be given to phone users. How can giving mobile users that power be so difficult?
It hasn’t happening because big tech depends on always-on internet for their businesses. They need your smartphone to be always online so they can constantly milk your personal details and keep track of everything you do and everywhere you go. Without always-on internet on smartphones, Google’s operations would take a hit. And Facebook, Instagram, and other creepy platforms would suffer too.
So, none of them will do it. They will continue to come up with half-baked attempts like Datally. And your smartphone will continue to guzzle your mobile data despite your contrary desire.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.