The pitfalls of data roaming are well documented: extortionate charges, bill shock, tariff uncertainty and although networks are trying harder not to scam its customers and make cost more transparent, there’s still major hesitation from most punters to surf the web and jump on the social network when abroad. Well, a new app called Onavo, may well put these fears to bed. Designed to crunch your data, the developers behind the app claim it could save you up to 80%.

Onavo runs in the background, compressing incoming data and unnecessary web artefacts like images to reduce the amount of traffic consumed. It will show how much money you save and the apps or features that gobble up the most data. Add-ons to monitor specific apps like Facebook are also available and this sideline is expected to grow over the coming months. Onavo will even stop shrinking data and step aside when a Wi-Fi connection takes over. How very obliging.

Right now the app is in private invitation only beta testing and only available for the iPhone. However, Life of Android hooked up with the boys from Onavo recently and was told an Android version is but a few months away. Just in time for our summer holiday abroad?




  • Isabel Campbell

    May 1st, 2011 03:47 PM

    Check out Onavo messages at Quora. They CTO of the company explains the truth about how it works. Too bad they CEO and all the marketing $$$ went to make up lie that makes them seem exclusive. Bad move for a company that wants to run a trusted proxy.

  • Isabel Campbell

    May 1st, 2011 04:24 AM

    Wow. @onavo appends its own signature to your email sig WITHOUT explicitly telling you. Not. Cool. #TrustShattered #Uninstall

    Doesn’t COMPRESS at all it just reduces quality of images and fonts. They should start being honest about how it works

  • IleanaLucciano

    May 1st, 2011 01:31 AM

    People who appreciate their privacy probably should investigate this much further before they send all of their e-mail, facebook, twitter, and web browsing traffic through the servers of a company that isn’t clear about what they will be doing with all of the information they collect about you.

    The license agreement and privacy policy that you agree to by using the application are both subject to change and from my limited understanding, they can change without notice. Onavo says it’s your responsibility to check their website often for changes to the agreements. To me, that says anything they promise today, isn’t really a promise at all.

    Onavo changes (or has you change) your connection settings so that all internet traffic routes through a proxy server they control. It appears that only way they save on your mobile data volume is by reducing the quality of the fonts and images that they intercept as it passes from the web, to them and then to your phone. That is why they say their service won’t help with streaming audio/video.

    There marketing doesn’t make it easy to discover that they intercept every byte of email and internet traffic going in and out of your phone. Onavo should be more up front about this.

    They also cache your web traffic on their servers to optimize their own bandwidth so I would assume it’s possible you aren’t guaranteed a fully refreshed page from the web when your traffic passes through Onavo. They are confident this won’t happen, but in my experience with caching, it’s not always 100%. They don’t advertise any of this information. It’s only mentioned in their license agreement.

    Onavo is on a major worldwide marketing blitz starting a few days ago and I consider what they say as slightly misleading about how it works. The fact that they collect information about your internet usage is buried deep in their privacy policy. They are never clear about what they intend to use your data for but they are clear that they do intend to use it in an aggregated form to “improve” the service.

    This makes the license agreement that is subject to change even more risky considering what they hold. I did not see anything in the agreement that says what Onavo will do with all of your data if you terminate the agreement either. If it’s there, I missed it. If it isn’t there, that is a big issue. Does removing the app from your phone terminate the agreement? Who knows.

    Onavo says they will be charging a subscription fee for premium services but there isn’t any definition of what that is.

    Their marketing implies it runs as a service on your phone and compresses data with its “magical shrinking machine.” This is what I found uncomfortable and misleading. The app itself appears to do nothing but log into your account on their servers to look at a record of how much data they pulled from the web for you and how much they trimmed it by reducing the quality before it gets passed to your phone.

    The idea has been around for years and was made big Opera and has been available on iPhone and other mobile devices with OperaMini. Opera has 170 million users and is 100% free. Opera is also very clear and open about how they operate and where their revenue comes from.

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