(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Read Your Meters

We love our devices, but do we use them too much? Do you find yourself constantly blowing by the monthly data allowance from your wireless carrier, or filling up your phone or tablet’s available storage all too quickly? Yes, some day our gadgets will be bigger, stronger and faster. For now, though, both Android and iOS have some built-in usage trackers that just may help you keep tabs on your gadget.

Android
android data
If you’re on a monthly 3G/4G data plan, log into your cellular account for exact numbers on your monthly allowance. But to get a quick rough estimate of how much data each of your apps has been pulling down off the Internet, get to your Settings area. This varies by version, but on a Kit Kat (4.4) tablet, swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to open the Quick Settings box and then tap Settings. Under Wireless Internet, tap Data Usage to see which apps are the greediest when it comes to your Internet (WiFi and cell) connection. You can even set up safeguards to stop you from going over your data limits with your cellular carrier.

android appsIf your Android device is feeling a little full and you want to see how much of your storage is filled with various types of files, tap the back arrow at the top of the screen next to Data Usage. This takes you a step back to the main Settings screen. Under Device, tap Storage to see how much available space you have left, what kinds of files are filling up your used space, and how much each of those files types is taking. It’s not a zoom shot of your device, but it gives you an idea.

iOS
iphone data use
For those cellular equipped iPhones and iPads, you can always log into your user account to see the current state of your cellular usage. You can also get a rough estimate by tapping the Settings icon on the Home screen, tapping Cellular and flicking down the screen to the Data Usage area. Here, you can see your current cellular-data usage, and also which apps are the biggest hogs. Tap the buttons to prevent specific apps from grabbing data when you’re on a 3G or 4G connection and make them wait for WiFi.

iphone dataWant to see what apps are taking up the most room on your maxed-out iOs gadget? Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen, choose General and then Usage. In the Storage area, you can see you much you have used up and how much is available space. Tap Manage Storage to see precisely which apps are grabbing the biggest chunks of space. Tap an app name to get a Delete option. You can also just eliminate certain files, like those outdated Elementarys from the Videos app.

No matter which mobile platform you use, it’s not a bad idea to periodically check your usage stats, just to make sure your apps are behaving themselves with your Internet connection. It can be educational — and you may also be surprised to learn just how much time you spend posting and reading Facebook.

 

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