Back in 2008 AT&T predicted that the internet would be full by 2010. Now although this clearly hasn't happened, carriers like AT&T are clearly concerned about the increasing levels of traffic over their mobile networks and in particular the amount of video being streamed onto our handsets. In the States, Canada and to a lesser degree Europe these concerns are reflected in the gradual disappearance of unlimited mobile data plans.
Where once we merrily downloaded massive files onto our phones and streamed audio and video to our hearts' content – these days increasing numbers of us have to watch what we do lest we overstep our data allowance. As my Granny used to say, "Look after the kilobytes dear and the megabytes will look after themselves."
So to help you through these lean times, here are our top 10 tips for managing and tracking your data.
1. There's an app for that. If you are with Verizon or AT&T your Android phone will come equipped with these carriers' own data tracking apps. "My Verizon" and "myAT&T" both of which provide up-to-date accurate information on how much data your phone is using. If you happen to be with another carrier then there are plenty of free third-party apps that are just as useful. 3G Watchdog, My Data Manager and APNdroid are three of the most downloaded.
2. Rip off your boss. Using a WiFi hotspot will not impact on your data allowance as you are using a different network. So download those apps and stream those videos from work or, if you're feeling honest, a coffee shop or pop down to Times Square where they have a free WiFi Hotzone.
3. Learn the ropes. Familiarize yourself with the amount of data each app uses. For example 2GB of data will let you update your Facebook status a million times. Or, it could give you a million tweets, let you visit androidheadlines.com half a million times or send about 400,000 emails. You could also download about 270 tunes, a couple of movies or share 1,000 photos.
4. Move to the UK. Get a T-Mobile PAYG SIM and you can then buy six months unlimited data for £20 ($32).
5. Check your apps. Seeing which of your apps uses background data and then adjusting the update frequency or even removing them can make a small but lasting difference to your data consumption.
6. Switch off AutoSync. Obvious really.
7. Use an online calculator. There are several of these handy tools on the web that let you see how much data you are likely to use. My favorite is Vodafone's but Verizon and several other carriers have them too.
8. Go to the Opera. The Opera browser compresses web pages before they are downloaded which can make a significant difference to the data you use. Bear in mind though that the quality of many images (in particular jpegs) will suffer as a result.
9. Be cheap and nasty. Use low resolution video streaming where possible. This will cost you around 180 MB/hr as opposed to 415 MB/hr for the high res equivalent.
10. Buy an iPhone. You'll be so busy showing off, you'll never get round to using it for anything useful.
And that concludes our round-up of how to get the most for the least. If you have any data saving tips of your own, and we're sure you do, why not post them in the comments? Make sure you're using a WiFi hotspot though…