Google South Africa’s newly launched Datally app helps people to understand, monitor, track and manage data usage on their devices.
For a while now, consumers have labelled data costs in South Africa too expensive and have also been enraged over the disappearance of data. Google South Africa labels data as confusing, hard to control, expensive and unpredictable. Their newly launched data management app aims to address these concerns and problems.
The need for this app
Asked why there was a need for this app, Mich Atagana, head of communications for Google South Africa replied, “The biggest insight we have seen in emerging countries is that people are concerned about their data. They turn off their data. A lot of people have smartphones, but how many of them are using the phones as smartphones? Actively using the internet and apps. Those kind of insights inform the need for something like this, to better understand and control data usage.”
The app tells a person how much data they are using on a daily, weekly and monthly basis as well as breaks down how much data is being used by each app on the mobile device. The app also allows the person to lock any apps they choose, which prevents them from using mobile data, until they are unlocked.
“The average mobile user doesn’t think about how their data is used and where the data goes,” Atagana commented. “Data conscious users don’t understand where they’re using their data, so they keep using it in the wrong places or at the wrong times. Blocking data in the background is also something they need to be made aware of.”
While many smartphones already have this feature, this is not the only function of the app. It also tells people where free wi-fi hotspots are around them, giving Google Maps directions to these sites. These are sites where businesses have voluntarily opened a network to the public, so a person will not pick up any private networks.
Designed for the next billion internet users
The product was specially designed to accommodate the needs and wants of the next billion internet users. A billion people already use many of Google’s products, but that the next billion users will be significantly different to the first billion.
“This product is focused on what the next billion internet users want and how they will use the internet,” said Atagana. “The next billion users will not come from the US, Europe, or Japan, they will come from South Africa, India, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines. They want exactly the same thing as the first billion users want from the internet but their experiences will be different.”
Whereas most of the first billion started their internet journey on a computer, most of the next billion are doing so on a mobile device and for many, it is mobile only. Thus their internet experience needs to be tailored to mobile and their needs and wants. “South Africa shouldn’t be left behind just because the internet was built for the first billion users. So how do we make it more relevant and create a more relevant ecosystem for South Africans and other emerging countries,” said Atagana.
Testing the app
Datally was tested in the Philippines with 500 000 people having downloaded the app; 85% of them said they would recommend the app to their friends and according to Google SA “… some of them have saved up to 30% of their data costs”. The Philippines was picked as the country to test the device because it is a key next billion user market for Google and it allows for a richer dataset to be gathered so improvements can be made before launch in the next market.
At the launch, Google SA also gave a sneak peek into another upcoming app. Aside from data usage, another major challenge on mobile is storage space. Files Go, which has been in beta testing, is a mobile storage manager that helps people free up space on their devices, find files faster, and easily share them with their friends, family and colleagues.
South Africa’s online ecosystem
South Africa’s digital ecosystem is incredibly healthy and growing, with a large potential for scale. The country is expected to have 40 million internet users by 2020.
An estimated 30 million South Africans are currently online, with around 26% of them accessing the internet through smartphones; 65% of South Africans who use the internet come online daily and 85% of these use the internet at least two times a day or more.
Mobile search queries in the country have increased 50% since 2015 and the number of YouTube daily active viewers has increased significantly, 140% in the same period.
Datally is available as a free download in the Google Play store, but is only compatible with Android 5.0 systems and higher.
Michael Bratt is a multimedia journalist at Wag the Dog Publishers. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelBratt8