Friday, April 27, 2012

Keep Your Cellphone Bill Under Control With DroidStats [Android 1.6+]

Keep Your Cellphone Bill Under Control With DroidStats [Android 1.6+]:
One of the reasons I love our Best Android Apps page is that users keep recommending excellent apps in the comments. Sure, there are developers trying to promote their own apps, but what I really like seeing is users rooting for their personal favorites. Take reader Arturo Álvarez for example. He recommended DroidStats in the comments, and thanks to him, I discovered an excellent app for monitoring monthly plan usage with a solid free version.
DroidStats works whether or not you have plan limits, lets you configure your monthly billing date, and more. I’ve added DroidStats to the Best Android Apps page, but I also wanted to take you on a detailed tour of the app.

Initial Configuration

When you first run DroidStats, it pops up a lengthy explanation. Nobody likes long explanation with tiny fonts, but you should still read it. Once you’re done, tap Continue & Import – DroidStats will pull in data from your phone’s SMS and call logs, to instantly give you an idea of your usage.
The sync takes just a moment, and then you need to set up your own plan limits. Tap Menu and then Settings:
The app has lots of options, but let’s start with Monthly Limits first.
Here you can quickly set up your total call time limit (in minutes), your monthly SMS count, and the data limit included with your plan. For my personal set up, this is ideal. I have a plan with a set number of text messages and call minutes regardless of which network I am calling or texting to. One important setting you need to remember is the Billing Month Beginning. Grab your cellphone bill to see what it is (it’s not necessarily the 1st of each month). Scroll down the Monthly Limits screen and tap Billing Month Beginning:
That’s it for basic configuration. DroidStats is very versatile and there are lots of other settings to play with, but this is enough to start tracking your usage.

Tracking Your Usage

As soon as you’re done with the basic configuration, you can instantly see how you’re doing in the Overview screen. The progress bars here are confusing at first glance: They run backwards. Meaning, when they are full (like my Mobile Data bar), it means you still have lots of resources left. As you use up your texts, call minutes or data, the bars will gradually drain.
As you can see, I’m doing quite well. My billing cycle ends in 7 days, and I’m not even close to using up my limits. In fact, this made me realize that maybe I should call my cell company and ask for a plan with lower limits and a better price.
If you want more information about a particular area, you can just tap it, or swipe from right to left to switch to the next tab. Here’s the Calls tab, for example:
You can drill deeper by tapping one of the metrics. For example, if you tap Outgoing calls you will get the top three contacts you’ve called during this billing period, as well as how many minutes you spent talking to each. The same goes for text messages: DroidStats makes it easy to see who you’ve been texting the most, and who has been texting you.

Advanced Options

DroidStats lets you set warning thresholds. Once you hit such a threshold, it lets you know you’re close to your call, text, or data limit. Some carriers also let users convert unused text credits into minute credits, and vice versa. If your carrier has such an option, DroidStats can take that into account as well.
DroidStats uses animations for switching between tabs in the apps, but if you have a slower device (or just don’t like animations), you can disable them.


The free version of DroidStats comes with three widgets, which you can see above. It’s important to remember that the widgets show how many minutes, texts, and data you still have remaining. If you keep that in mind, the 1×1 widget actually provides enough information for daily use, and I really like its compact size. The paid version of DroidStats also includes a 4×1 widget, and lets you configure your widgets.

Final Thoughts

DroidStats is a great way to keep track of your monthly usage limits, and I love how it uses logs to track your past usage as soon as you install it, so you don’t have to wait for the next billing cycle to start using it. A beautifully crafted app, and does what it’s supposed to do.
Let us know what you think of it and whether there is an alternative app that does a better job.

No comments:

Post a Comment

[Please do not advertise, or post irrelevant links. Thank you for your cooperation.]