Now that most carriers have gone to tiered data rate plans it’s even more important to keep track of exactly how much data you consume. If you can narrow down when and where you use the majority of data, even better. The problem is the built in iPhone data tracking system is cumbersome to access and you need to manually clear the statistics when your billing cycle rolls over.screen-shot-2010-12-31-at-74916-pm

I have three iPhones on my account, and although my phone is still grandfathered on the unlimited data plan, my wife and mother-in-law are on the 200MB per month for $15 plan. I am constantly wondering where they are in their allotted data plans and hope they don’t go slightly over, thus incurring another $15 charge. To say it has been difficult to explain the benefit of using data intensive applications while on Wi-Fi instead of 3G is an understatement. They just want to use their phones when they want to and not have to think about what network they are on, which is totally understandable.

There’s an iPhone application that now helps combat excessive data charges, but more importantly data overage charges. Dataman features data tracking along with push notifications to let you know when you are getting close to exceeding your data allowance. This application works fantastic and is ultra simple to use.

This $1.99 application(there is a free version with limited functionality) gives you three  viewing options-current, history and settings. Current is a summary look at your data usage broken down by Wi-Fi and cellular, while history allows the user to pick a date on the calendar and see detailed usage on a particular day.

First things first, when you initially download the application you will want to head on over to the settings tab where you will specify your bill date and data allowance. You will also see your alert thresholds where the application will send you an alert when you reach the four thresholds of cellular data usage, 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent and 100 percent. These alerts are also customizable if you would rather be notified at other times in the usage process. As an example if you are on a 200MB data screen-shot-2010-12-31-at-74841-pmplan you will be alerted at 50MB, 100MB, 150MB and 200MB of usage.

History will let you check data usage of a certain time period with starting and ending dates that you specify. It will then show you cellular and Wi-Fi data for that specific time period. Users can then see daily and hourly usage data if for some reason you needed very detailed information on data usage.

So, should you go with the free version or shell out the $1.99 for the full version? If you can live without hourly, daily and weekly stats and you can remember to open the application every now and then to check usage, go with the freebie. I you are not disciplined enough to check the app and need the notification alerts spend the two bucks and get the full version. If it saves you even one month of overage charges it has paid for itself seven times over.

I highly recommend this application and now I won’t have to hound the women in my life to keep track of data usage, the alerts will remind them to be more mindful of how many megabytes they use. They still don’t know what a megabyte is but at least they will know how many they have consumed.

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