Keep track of data usage with Data Sense for Windows Phone 8

Nokia Counters is currently available for Windows Phone 7.x handsets to help keep owners on top of contract usage. This app is actually part of Windows Phone 8 as a featured titled Data Sense, and pretty much carries out an identical task - to help you keep track of what you're using, as well as what your limits are.

Should you be on a budget, or on a tight data plan, this could well be a feature you'd like to make use of quite extensively. The system that Microsoft has created, called Data Sense, is located both in the cloud and on the Windows Phone that provides a unique service and builds on strong foundations of providing the user information on data usage.

So how has Microsoft taken Data Sense further? While the feature will report data usage once configured to match current contract or plan allowances and renewal dates, there's also data compression functionality that helps keep actual usage down when using Internet Explorer 10 on Windows Phone.

Every web page that's loaded is compressed when sent to the device, which also increases load speed - it's a win win situation. Not only that but Data Sense reportedly detects WiFi hotspots on a map, and automatically moves certain background tasks that consume data to the WiFi connection. Neat, eh?

Nokia Counters App

Nokia Counters - similar functionality to Data Sense

Network settings can also be adjusted automatically by Data Sense as the user approaches the data plan limit in each billing month. Should the owner which to know which apps are absorbing the largest chunk of the pie, Data Sense shows how much data each app is consuming. Toast notifications and Live Tile updates alert the user to when the data limit is creeping closer.

According to Microsoft research, consumers can browse 45% more web pages on the same data plan than without Data Sense, which makes all features included in this article useful for many Windows Phone owners who could put data saving to good use. Verizon will be the first operator in the US to launch Data Sense on all Windows Phones this coming holiday, while other partners will roll out the feature next year.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I wonder if it will work for shared data and shared minutes. It won't necessarily be "useless" if it doesn't, but it won't help like intended.
  • I think it will, because this is not a passive app only on your phone, but includes a serverside component on your carrier, which should know what exactly goes where and hwo much exactly is left.
  • In UK some networks give you same network minutes etc
  • Why, why on earth do the carriers need to be involved with this "Windows Phone 8" feature?  If it's built into the OS why does this feature need to go through them?  I just don't understand it.  I love the idea of this feature, but am completely skeptical with my carrier having the provide the feature that's supposedly built into the OS.  I guess I'll go back to dialing *646# and *3282# (AT&T).
  • @dlrohm - I don't think the app would be able to work properly without receiving the information from the carriers. I've seen something very similar to this in some of the phones that I sell (specifically, I only seen it in Android phones running ICS), and it works flawlessly.
  • Unless you wanted to enter the information manually there would be no way for the app to know what your data limit is and when it renews without the carrier providing that information.
  • Dang, I've wished for this type of functionality on my WP for a long time. I'm looking forward to this feature on WP8!
  • Finally Verizon has something first.
  • Can it be turned off? I'm thinking of the scenario where the carrier is having issues with their compression server, and you are stuck without data until the problem is resolved.