Onavo: For the Post-Unlimited Data World


(Like the others, I wrote this a couple of years ago…and yes, I’m still rocking the app! My wife recently got an iPhone, and since she doesn’t have the unlimited data plan, she’s rocking it as well.)

For a lot of us, we’ve been using smartphones for years now…making us savvy old vets, or as my friend Adam would say, “old salts”. I’m not sure exactly what an old salt is, but it’s stuck with me.

In any event, one of the benefits of having a smartphone for all of this time is having an unlimited data plan, provided that you did not switch carriers. Me personally, I’ve been with AT&T since 2005, and have had the iPhone since 2008. As such, I’ve been able to keep my unlimited data plan (grandfathered in once they did away with it). Loyalty has its price.

But for millions of new smartphone users, they are not quite as lucky as we are…AT&T has made the switch to a two-tiered data plan. For 15 bucks, you can select the basic data plan, which allows you to use up to 200MB…which is great, except that most people will exceed that, especially if you’re using your smartphone for business. With that, there are two additional plans to choose from: either the $25 plan, which allows you to use up to 2GB, or the 45 dollar plan, which allows you to use up to 4GB (for smartphone tethering).

Most people that I’ve talked to about switching over to a smartphone have expressed the concern that data plans could be cost-prohibitive…especially considering that they are anticipating that they will exceed the allocated amount every month.

What to do then?

Up until now, you were left with no choice but to monitor the usage of your data plan (via the AT&T app). For many of us, myself included, we do not have the time, nor the patience to do so…

Here’s where Onavo comes to save the day!

A great app that basically compresses the amount of data that is sent and received through your smartphone, allowing you to use more of the allotted amount of data every month, without having to worry about going over…and paying those dreaded overage fees. Despite the fact that I still have the unlimited data plan, I went and downloaded it onto my very own iPhone. In approximately a month’s time, I have saved 162.26MB of data.

Massive Data Savings!

More specifically, here is how it works: once you download the Onavo app, your data is routed through Ovaco’s services, which compress your data and help you track your usage. It also highlights which apps are the most data-intensive, just for your own records. If you’re curious, or wanting to cut back on your data usage, this feature is especially helpful.

Once installed, the app runs in the background of your iPhone and automatically compresses your download data, but not your streaming data. If you’re on a Wi-Fi connection, it will paused the service. For me personally, I’m on Wi-Fi for most of the day, hence the small amount of savings. Your amount will vary with usage and Wi-Fi availability. You can also opt to turn off email compression, so that data is ignored.

If you’re concerned with privacy issues (nowadays, who isn’t?), Onavo ensures us that “we take our users’ privacy very seriously,” storing the minimum amount of data – all aggregated and anonymized. Some metadata is kept to be able to generate the reports. Onavo goes on to say that they do not store any data and can’t read HTTPS traffic, with the exception of Exchange Mail authentication info, something that users will have to explicitly approve in order to set up.

As of right now, the service and the cost of downloading the app is free…but it will eventually move to a monthly service fee. I’m hoping that it will be cost-effective, so that its users out there can select the most affordable data plan, and still be able to maximise that amount worry-free.

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