Most people have heard of Consume by now, in fact we did a review of it when it first came out. It has become the industry standard usage app for the iOS. However Bjango has not updated it for sometime and is not natively iPad compatible, which is leading to a clunky and rather utilitarian UI.
However, there is now a new kid on the block. Quota (by SouthFreo) may be new, but it is sleek, sexy and worth a look.
Consume’s major benefit is that it uses “recipes” to provide service provider information. These can be updated by Bjango to account for new providers and also changes to providers systems. Unfortunately it also means that little ol’ New Zealand can take sometime to get updated, Snap Internet made a system change that stuffed Consume back in May and it’s still not been updated.
Quota on the other hand, operates from a self invented system called QuotaXML which allows users and providers to update things themselves. While this means updates can be quickly pushed out, it also relies on the provider (like 2degrees, Snap etc) to do it.
Whilst Quota is a paid app, there is a free “lite” version available that only allows one account to be added.
So what can it do?
Well, it can act as an RSS feed, Google Reader and link into Twitter, stocks and various weather providers if you want it too. It can also provide information on services like Dropbox (how much capacity do you have left) and some Airports. Probably its most important aspect is ISP and phone provider information. When plugged in to, say, Vodafone it can display minutes, data, SMS, MMS remaining etc. It can also show you detailed maps of your usage.
Consume can do this already I hear you say? Well yes, it’s true Consume does this, and currently has more provider options. However (aside from the fact that it looks old) Consume cannot monitor local usage. Quota can be told how much data you have for Wi-Fi and/or 3G caps each month and then plot your usage against the user defined reset date (unfortunately 3G and Wi-Fi share this date and cannot currently be separated).
It can even display where you used them, if I want to see where I’m swapping from Wi-Fi to 3G and using lots of expensive data, I can use the inbuilt Google Map feature to check it out. It’s very accurate from my experience, recording the location of Wi-Fi gateways and 3G towers I connect to. Scarily it was very accurate as to where I lived, so I moved the map view slightly to hide the dense pocket of “pins” within 50m of my house!
Some “NZ Traffic Cams” are 3G/Wi-Fi linked so we can look at them and see how much traffic there is. The idea being to avoid log jammed routes and Quota can access and display these photos. Currently there seem to be 17 traffic cameras in and around Auckland.
What NZ specific services are available right now?
- Telstra Clear
- Vodafone Account
- Vodafone Prepay
- Vodafone Broadband
- NZ Traffic Cams
My provider/service isn’t on that list! What can I do?!
Follow this link and download the development kit, if you can do it yourself great! If not forward the link on to your provider and kindly ask them to develop it. I can tell you that 2degrees is currently working on it because I asked them nicely. Remember, be polite and give good reasons why they should! (“your competitors support it” usually works but it’s not a decisive reason!)
Why should I use it?
Well this is largely a subjective point, especially when Consume is out there for free (at least for iOS) and there are specialized apps that do some of the same tasks (like the Vodafone Account app and every RSS app and their dog).
The main bonus for using this app is that you can make it your “one stop shop” for all the important information. Why bother logging into your ISP website to see if you can afford to download that game patch when you can find it out instantly from your device? This is one of those apps where you get returns on your (time) investment, the more you use it, the more you will get out of it.
Currently its choices of “NZ Service Providers” is rather on the slim side, but it’s important to remember that this was once true for Consume as well. So for now, Consume is still slightly better with regards to provider data. However, one email from me was all that was needed to get 2degrees to forward the development kit to their legion of tech monkeys. If we all get the providers we desire on board then this app could become a must-have.
- You can “Wipe All Data” with a toggle inside the native Settings menu of the iOS
- Both Consume & Quota are iOS 4 and iOS 5 compatible
- Consume works on all iDevices (iOS 4+)
- iPhone Quota works on all iDevices (iOS 4+)
- iPad Quota native app available (iOS 4+)