U.S. carriers are offering more unlimited data plans than ever before, but mobile data is still a precious resource for millions of people. Making sure that your phone isn’t taking tasty slurps of mobile data every time your back is turned can be as simple as following our data-saving guide. While you can turn off mobile data and sync whenever you don’t need them, forgetting to do so even once means that, oops — there goes a gigabyte.
Thankfully, there are easy ways to make sure that your data is only used on the apps and services you really want it to be used for, and Google’s Datally app is one of the best and easiest to use. With tons of ways to cut down on your usage, and with Google constantly updating to add more and more tools, Datally can let you micromanage as much — or as little — as you like.
But with so many options in your hands, it can be a little overwhelming to get started. Here’s how to use Datally to make sure your data — and money — is safely saved.
The easiest way to get started
We mentioned the wealth of tools that Datally has, but in reality, all you need to get started is the one, giant switch at the top of Datally’s main screen. Tap the large switch (marked with a padlock) and Datally’s data saving options will switch on, and start saving data from the word go.
Done and want to know more? You probably noticed a couple of things happen once you hit that switch. First, a little bubble appeared on the side of your screen, displaying a figure. That’s your Bubble tracker, and it sits atop your active screen and lets you know how much data has been used. If you’re not keen on having it there, then you can either tap it and select Hide bubble, or tap-and-hold and drag it down to the bottom of the screen. Otherwise, you can turn it off in Datally itself — simply tap Bubble tracker and then hit Hide bubble.
One of the easiest ways to save data is to simply connect to a Wi-Fi network. But if you’re not near your home network that’s easier said than done. By default, Datally will let you know whenever you’re near a Wi-Fi network you can connect to, whether that be at a cafe, hotel, or bar. But if you’re looking to be a bit more proactive, then hit the Find Wi-Fi button to find Wi-Fi networks near you. This feature comes in two flavors: A simple list of Wi-Fi networks near you under the Nearby label, or a map view of nearby Wi-Fi networks under Explore. In either mode, tap a location, and you can get directions to your network of choice.
Managing which apps are allowed to use your data
If you’re a data miser like us, then just hitting a button and seeing numbers isn’t enough for you and you’re ready to go a bit deeper. Go back to Datally’s main page and hit Manage data to take a deeper look at what’s using your data. From here you’ll be able to see how much data you’ve used and when you’ve used it, as well as a list of which apps have used the most data. You can tap the padlock to the right to allow each app access to data — which allows you to keep receiving your emails while ensuring your podcast app doesn’t waste any data downloading episodes before you get home.
Next, head back to Datally’s main screen and tap on Unused apps. This is one of Google’s latest additions to Datally, and highlights a list of apps that haven’t been opened in over a month but have been using mobile data. Take caution with this list, as it can erroneously highlight apps that don’t need to be opened to be used, like Google’s Gboard or Google Pay. But it’s a good list to check over every now and again, as it does a good job at highlighting apps you’re just not using — regardless of the data used. If you do spot an app you could do without, just tap the Uninstall button to remove the app from your system.
Lock down that data fully
Sometimes a good hard limit is what’s needed, and if you’re really up against the wall and running out of data fast, then Datally can set limits on your daily usage.
To get started, hit Daily limit, then specify the amount of data you want to be limited to every day in either GB or MB. Then tap Set a daily limit, and voila — the next screen will keep you informed as to how much data you’ve used today, and give you the option to lock off all data access once the limit has been reached.
It can be a bit trickier to regulate your data if it’s not you using your phone. Perhaps your partner is a bit too attached to streaming videos, or one of your kids just loves to chew through your data in a day. Thankfully Datally’s got a fix for that too. Another new addition to the app, Guest mode, allows you to set a limit on mobile data. This limit is displayed in a notification bar, with a reminder when the limit has been reached, and the option to password lock the phone — perfect for limiting a child’s access to data.