Monitor your Android data usage with Onavo

Smartphones have really changed the way that we interact with the world, because we have the Internet at our fingertips everywhere that we go. The trouble is that, with the exception of using Wi-Fi hotspots, we’re relying on wireless data. And that costs money. And we want to save money.

There are some carriers out there that offer “unlimited” data, but most of us are stuck with mobile data buckets of varying sizes. Just like the minutes we use each month, we should be keeping a keen eye on each megabyte that passes through our smartphones.

If you don’t want to be surprised with massive overage charges on your cell phone bill, you may want to add Onavo to your Android device. It’s a free app that you can find through Android Market.

Managing Your Wireless Costs

In the simplest of terms, Onavo is a data usage monitor. The idea here is that it keeps an eye on every byte of wireless data that you use, ignoring any data that comes by via Wi-Fi. You might already have a way to check up on your data usage via your chosen wireless carrier, but this information is usually taken as an aggregate. Onavo offers much more specific information.

Monitoring Your Usage and Limits

With Onavo, you first define your initial settings so that it understands your monthly limit and when to reset the data counter. You can define when it will give you a warning, based on the percentage of your monthly allotment, and it can even block 3G data altogether when you reach a defined percentage of your plan.

Wireless Data Usage on Onavo

Wireless Data Usage on Onavo

While it does provide the data usage information in aggregate form, Onavo can also break down your data usage based on each day, as well as within each day. That’s pretty useful stuff, allowing you to recognize whether you use more data while at work or while out on the town, for example. If you find that one app is becoming a data hog, you can restrict its Internet access to Wi-Fi, too.

Homescreen Widgets and App Watching

Onavo naturally runs in the background to monitor what you’re doing, but it thankfully seems to use minimal resources. With application monitor on my Galaxy S, I found that Onavo typically only used about 6MB of RAM and about 2.5% of CPU resources.

Onavo Widgets and Apps

Onavo Widgets and Apps

This would increase if you used the available homescreen widgets, of course, but they could prove handy for faster “at a glance” information about your data usage. There’s one widget displaying your live data usage, one for your monthly usage, and one for “App Watch,” which monitors the data usage of each individual application.

Saving Your Money

Yes, I realize that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has some great data monitoring functions that weren’t previously available, but Onavo goes even further with its widgets, data blocking, Wi-Fi restricting, and other such features. It’s especially useful if you’re like most of us and you’re still running Froyo or Gingerbread. If you want to keep a closer eye on your data usage (and your wallet), Onavo is a good way to do that.