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New KnowMyApp.org tells consumers and developers how much data their favorite apps will consume.
December 27, 2013
Most smartphone users have little to no idea how much data they're using each month. This fact was reiterated to me over the holidays when my boyfriend's family of six welcomed another iPhone into the family plan, and negotiated data usage.
The kids debated which apps actually use data, how much apps left running in the background consume, and how they could limit their usage. In past months, they found that even without careful monitoring, they never came close their data cap of 4GB thanks to their home WiFi network, but the addition of a new smartphone user was making everyone nervous.
I tell this Christmas tale because it shows how data remains a mystery to most, something you only become acutely aware of when you start to rack up overages. That's why it's good to see the CTIA attempting to make it more clear with its announcement Thursday of KnowMyApp.org, a web site designed to inform consumers how much data their favorite apps use before they find out the hard way.
Currently, the site includes the top 50 paid and free apps from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and it spells out how the app was tested and how much data it used when downloaded, at initialization, during active run time, and during background time. It also shows how the app impacts data plans and offers suggestions on how users can minimize their usage.
CTIA built the site along with its Application Data Usage Working Group, which includes phone makers like Apple, vendors like Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), the big four US carriers, and chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM). Intertek Group plc developed the mobile app data usage benchmark testing using AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Application Resource Optimizer, an open-source diagnostic tool that analyzes network app data.
The site should be helpful for consumers who want to take the time to research and understand how apps affect their plans, but it's also a good tool for developers that want to build more data cap-friendly and battery-friendly apps. That will become increasingly important if consumers decide to limit their usage -- or not download an app -- based on how it affects their service plans and devices. (See Survey: Mobile Data Caps Matter.)
I bet most would be surprised to hear how much data their favorite apps eat up --and it's not just mobile video streaming either. For example, KnowMyApp.org says that Google Maps (the subject of debate on our five-hour car trip home) used for one day on a Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) iPhone 4S -- defined as three sessions of its different features -- would use up 31% of a 1GB data plan. That's pretty significant, especially since there is limited WiFi to help you on the road.
I'm not sure if the CTIA's new site will influence app downloads, but it will certainly give family members more ammo in their monthly data battles. Either way, it's good the operators are giving their customers insight into data-hungry apps to complement those services that provide insight after those apps are used.
Overages just aren't a good business for anyone.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Director, Women in Comms
Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.
She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.
As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.
Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.
Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.
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