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This nifty database shows how apps suck up your data plan

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Apps actually come at a greater cost than the price tag on the app store: drains to battery life and data plans, especially from resource-heavy programs, can ultimately be a total money suck. But a new database, assembled by mobile trade group CTIA, helps inform users about the data usage of mobile apps for iOS(s aapl) and Android (s goog), according to PC World.

Know My App is a database that archives the amount of data for apps on all platforms, but currently lists just the Top 50 Paid and Free apps. Each app is measured based on pre-defined “average” interactions. For example, Facebook’s(s fb) data measurement is based on “3 sessions of the following scenario: Posting 5 Comments, “Liking” 5 posts, viewing one embedded video, viewing 3 embedded photos, scroll through Timeline, 1 Check-In, Uploading 1 photo.” Average usage for Netflix, on the other hand, is defined as “2 sessions of the following scenario: Search for TV show, Watch TV show (for 9 minutes), Add TV show to favorites, pause video, turn on captions, rotate device, adjust volume, rewind/fast forward, view category.”

Of course, it’s no surprise that the impact on data is severe. In Know My App’s database, Facebook’s average data use (based on a Sprint(s s) iPhone 4S)  is 433.77MB per month — more than 20 percent of an average 2GB data plan and well over the budget 300MB plan. Netflix(s nflx) is an even bigger data vampire, pulling down more than 4GB per month. While it’s not a big deal when a device is on Wi-Fi, the data impact is enough to use up even the higher end of wireless data plans.

While it may cause a bit of sticker shock, the CTIA’s database is only a rough guideline for how much data apps can suck out of your phone. It certainly doesn’t provide a tailored experience based on each user’s behavior, like the information offered by Onavo and similar apps, so it’s hard to make tweaks and find solutions for users that want these apps on their devices. However, it does do a good job of showing users the hidden cost of apps, and goes an extra step by helping developers figure out the best way to keep their apps’ data usage low. It’s a nifty little search that may make you think twice before downloading an app.

2 Responses to “This nifty database shows how apps suck up your data plan”

  1. Peter Fretty

    As more firms transition towards being mobile enterprises, the need to readdress the data usage issue needs to intensify as well. After all organizations cannot allow data usage to become a barrier to achieving mobile-based results. According to an IDC survey (sponsored by T-Systems) the use of mobile applications to be a critical component of success for increasing productivity and efficiency, and companies surveyed hope to up flexibility (56 percent) and reduce their IT costs (53 percent) by increasing mobility.

    Peter Fretty

  2. If you are interested in seeing how you use mobile data (not wi-fi) on your Android Phone check out Opera Max beta for Android ( its an early beta and is currently available only in the USA ):

    Opera Max shows you how apps use data on your android in an intuitive timeline interface. Also it provides data savings by compressing text, images, and videos (onavo does not do video savings) for almost all non-encrypted apps on your Android.