It's one modern convenience most of us can't live without: our mobile phone.
These touchscreen devices have evolved into pocket-sized computers, capable of messaging, Web surfing, video conferencing, gaming, photography, GPS navigation, social networking, fitness tracking and the handling of work documents…and you can even make phone calls with them too!
However, many of the fun things you can do on a smartphone today require "mobile data," and you probably have a plan with your network that gives you a certain number of megabytes or gigabytes to use each month.
If you find yourself going over your allowance (and perhaps paying a hefty penalty) the following are some handy tips for savvy data usage.
1. Try to save the activities that eat up a lot of mobile data — like streaming audio or video — for when you're in a Wi-Fi network at home, a coffee shop, airport lounge or hotel lobby. This is especially a concern if you're using up data while "roaming" in another country, which can really add up.
2. Be sure to properly close apps when you're not using them as they still might be running in the background and possibly using up mobile data.
3. Try to limit apps that have regularly pushed content — weather updates, or live sports scores — as your smartphone will use up data on an ongoing basis.
4. Try not to create a personal hotspot with your smartphone — and then wirelessly tether it to a laptop or tablet to get online — as it can eat up your data.
5. If you need to do any major email correspondence, extensive Web surfing, streaming or downloading, ask yourself if it can wait until you get to a broadband connection.
6. Look for apps that use less data by doing your research prior to download and use. For example, a GPS navigation app called CoPilot Live Premium doesn't use up any data at all, whereas Google Maps and Apple Maps do eat up data while you're getting directions.
7. Turn off "Push" mail if you really don't need to know whenever an email comes in right away. Then, when in a Wi-Fi hotspot, "pull" it all down. On a related note, enter your email settings to choose "View only," rather than downloading full attachments.
8. If you’re traveling to another country, be sure you're well aware of their roaming rates as it'll be significantly higher compared to your existing data plan. When in doubt disable data roaming on your smartphone altogether or consider buying a mobile data SIM ( www.dataoram.co.uk ) as it'll be a lot cheaper than roaming.
9. Use instant Messaging (IM) programs are affordable solutions for friends who want to keep in touch. Programs like WhatsApp, Viber or Facebook Messenger use little data, they're fast and reliable, and they offer advantages over texting.
10. Don't update apps over the air if you can do it on your computer — and then synchronize the updates to your smartphone via a USB cable.