Apple’s new iPhone and iPad software makes it easier to identify apps that are using too much data and lets users cut them off to stay below data plan limits.
Apple didn’t discuss the new cellular data usage tracking during the iOS 7 announcement, but while using the iOS 7 beta we discovered Apple borrowed one of our favorite Android features.
iOS 7 tracks the data used in the current billing period and even breaks it down by app, something that requires a third-party service and a VPN in iOS 6.
The screenshot above shows the new iOS 7 data tracking in action. Users can see how much data is used in the current period and see how much each app is using. Tapping the toggle to the right of an app turns off access to cellular data for that app.
Apple isn’t offering a breakout of foreground and background data usage like Google does, and there is no ability to restrict only background data usage in this menu, but it is a great start.
As unlimited mobile data plans disappear and shared family plans become the norm, tracking data usage is important, but carrier apps can only tell you how much data you used, not which apps are responsible for the data. With IOS 7 users can see which apps are using the most data and if need by turn off data access on cellular.
Many iPhone users report mysterious surges in their data usage, which can use GB’s worth of data without permission or an easy way to track down the misbehaving app. With this new setting users should be able to quickly see which app is responsible for the out of control data use.
Many apps allow users to limit specific actions to WiFi, such as Dropbox for automatic camera uploads. With the new iOS 7 feature users can quickly handle this in one location, even for apps that don’t let users choose to limit data usage.
It would be nice to see Apple offer to track and limit overall data usage with alerts, like on Android, but this is a good start towards helping users see what apps are using data and costing them money on data overages.
The iOS 7 beta is in the hands of developers, offering access to the new features right now. Average users can try the iOS 7 beta right now for as low as $8, but there are reasons to leave the beta alone.
Apple set an iOS 7 release date for fall, which likely means it will arrive in September or October alongside the rumored iPhone 5S.