iOS 7 Tracks Data Use By App to Identify Data Hogs

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.

iOS 7 tracks data use by app letting users identify apps that use too much data and turn off cellular data for any app.

iOS 7 tracks data use by app letting users identify apps that use too much data and turn off cellular data for any app.

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.

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Android offers a similar data tracking feature.

Android offers a similar data tracking feature.

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.

ios 7 featuresMany 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.

Comments

  1. Chuck Kahn (@chuckkahn) says

    My biggest cellular usage is under System Services / iTunes Accounts = 1.1 GB. How do I disable that over cellular? What data is that exactly? Is it trying to sync TV shows to my iPhone over cellular? I only have 1 GB per month and I’m at 1.4 currently.

  2. Paurian says

    Hi Chuck,

    I have the same issue – 254 MB of data usage immediately after installing iOS7. That’s unacceptable since I didn’t download a thing through iTunes. I’m thinking to myself “WTF apple!? WTF!?”

    Not only that, it’s been gnawing away my iPhone 4 battery life. I’ve never had my battery drain this quickly or data usage go up this quickly, so I suspect the two are related.

    Now I have to call up the cellular service and negotiate with them over Apple’s misdemeanor. Amid the other crazy issues with iOS7, I have to wonder if Apple tests this stuff well enough before they release it.

  3. Paurian says

    I double checked my iTunes & App Store settings and all Automatic Downloads are off (as I configured them less than 24 hours ago) as is the Cellular Data.

    I remember there being a bug in a past release of iOS (iOS 4, I think) where iTunes also gobbled up Cellular Data. It is also poor design on Apple’s part to have preferences to turn off cellular data in the iTunes app preference and not allow you to turn it off in the cellular data usage in the Cellular preferences where all the other non-apple/non-system apps have their toggles.

    I’m just throwing some ideas out there, but hopefully someone will post some serious answers soon. Mobile services aren’t necessarily forgiving even if it’s not your fault.

  4. DJones says

    Paurian I’ve had the same trouble this week. After receiving a bill for $400 over my average data usage. I know I haven’t used it. After now reading your post I’ve realised it’s perfect timing that I installed IOS7. I reset my phone 9 days ago but it’s already reading that I have used 5.8GB on a 2GB plan. Now I’ll probably end up with another massive bill. My phone habits have not changed but since installing IOS7 my data usage has spiked and battery life has decreased. How do I explain to my service carrier that it’s the upgrade and not pysically me using it!!!???

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