Track your iOS data usage with DataMan Pro

DataMan ProDataMan Pro is an iOS app from XVision. Its latest revision is available now as a $4.99 download from the App Store alongside its slightly less-featured counterpart DataMan Next, which costs $1.99.

DataMan Pro is an app designed to help users take control of their device’s data usage and prevent them going over their monthly data allowance. Upon starting the app for the first time, the user must provide their billing date, their monthly allowance and how much data they have already used that month, and this is then used by the app to calculate usage on an ongoing basis.

The main screen of the app is very simple. It notes how long until the next billing cycle, how much of the user’s allowance has been used as a percentage, and color-codes the screen according to a forecast of whether or not they will be over their limit before the end of the cycle. Green means “safe,” orange means “caution,” and red means “danger.” It also tracks how much data has been used over Wi-Fi in the same period, though this information does not have the same granularity as the mobile data usage statistics.

By default, the app simply tracks cellular and Wi-Fi usage, but by switching into “Advanced mode” the user has the option for greater detail in their reports. In Advanced mode, mobile data usage is broken down on a per-app basis, allowing users to quickly root out which apps are chewing through their data allowance most quickly. Services that make use of data (such as the push, sync and Game Center facilities) are also reported, but in some cases the specific amount of data they have used is not retrieved. Advanced mode also tracks their data usage by location, so they can see, for example, if there are particular locations in which patchy Wi-Fi signal causes them to make more heavy use of cellular data. This feature also allows users to keep track of how much data they have used when abroad — useful for keeping tabs on roaming charges.

The downside of this location-aware mode is that it requires the phone’s GPS system to be constantly active in the background, which is a big drain on battery resources. It’s also not at all clear how to turn it off — quitting the app from the iOS multitasking bar doesn’t appear to achieve this, and there is seemingly no options menu either within the app or the iOS settings menu. In fact, to access the app’s options menu, the user must swipe from right to left on the main screen — something which is not at all obvious.

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The options menu provides a variety of settings. If the user’s data plan changes, they may amend the details they initially provided. They can also set up usage alerts at various boundaries, turn Advanced mode on or off, toggle the display of both sent and received data or just received, or reset the app’s statistics altogether.

DataMan Pro is a solid app that performs its function well, and its ease of use means that for heavy data users it will doubtless pay for itself before very long. The only concern with it is that if App Store reviewers are to be believed, the app undergoes frequent revamps that significantly change its functionality — and the most recent of these has actually stripped out a selection of features which many users found to be useful such as weekly, monthly and hourly reports. That said, in its current form it appears to do a good job of accurate data tracking, and is easy enough to set up and use that even technophobes can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

You can follow DataMan Pro’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

UPDATE: XVision has provided clarification on a few of the points we mention in our review:

  • By design, users can see the usage for each app but not for iOS services. This is an Apple-restriction workaround. You can subtract the apps’ usage from the total usage to get the usage by the iOS services.
  •  Users can turn off Advanced Mode inside DataMan’s Settings to stop location tracking. DataMan Pro uses the low-power location services provided by iOS and should not drain the battery.
  • App tracking does not require location services. Users can turn off Advanced Mode and location services and still get app stats. XVision is working on revising the help text shown in the Advanced screen.
  • The latest DataMan Pro version 6.3 was released after the previous version was removed by Apple. XVision had to remove daily and weekly reporting for this update to bring back DataMan Pro. XVision is working on more updates to address the concerns of users who upgraded.