(Credit: Screenshots: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

If you're not a high roller with an unlimited data plan, Google's free Datally app can help you make the most of your allotted gigabytes by helping you track apps on your phone that might want to use an excessive chunk of your mobile connection. Many apps can transmit data whether or not they're open -- that's primarily how you get their notifications. Today, Google announced two new additions to Datally: an "emergency bank" and "bedtime mode."

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In the new Emergency Bank section of the app, you can set a specific number of megabytes that you want to have available no matter what -- even if that means shutting down data transfers occurring in other apps. This way, if you're stuck on the side of the road or you need Google Maps to make an unscheduled detour into unfamiliar lands, you have the available megabytes left in your monthly plan to prepare for the unexpected.

If you have an unlimited data plan, this new Datally feature may still help you avoid the overage fees and throttling that come with that territory -- and Datally's basic app behavior tracking can still help you optimize how much data your other apps use, even if you're not using the Emergency Bank feature.

Meanwhile, Datally's new Bedtime Mode can pay particular attention to what apps may be doing in the background overnight, while you sleep. This mode lets you set a specific window of time where you don't want your phone to send or receive any data. Note that you can still make and receive phone calls and SMS text messages in Bedtime Mode, since those don't count against your data. You just won't receive notifications from non-SMS apps, so your phone will go silent until you flip the proverbial switch back on.

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Bedtime Mode may also come in handy when you need to study or otherwise focus on a non-phone activity for an extended period of time.

What else can Datally do?

In addition to the Emergency Bank and Bedtime Mode, Datally also has a handy Find Wi-Fi tool that will map your area and identify local high-quality public Wi-Fi connections. Because after all, Datally is designed to help you conserve mobile data, and a Wi-Fi connection is "free," as far as your mobile carrier is concerned.

If you have one of Google's Pixel phones, then you also have access to the Wi-Fi Assistant, which can create a free virtual private network (VPN) connection when you access public Wi-Fi. This helps protect you by creating an encrypted tunnel that the Wi-Fi provider can't snoop on.

The Datally app also has a Daily Limit section where you can cut off your data connection for the day once it reaches a certain number of megabytes used; an Unused Apps section where you can nuke apps you don't actively use that are nevertheless using up data; and there's a Guest Mode when you need to hand your phone off to someone else, but you want to set a specific limit on how much data they can use before they get cut off.

The takeaways

  1. Google's free Datally app has been updated to add two new features: an Emergency Bank that lets you reserve a set chunk of your monthly data plan for emergencies, and Bedtime Mode that lets you set a window where no apps can send or receive data.
  2. The app is also useful for identifying high-quality nearby public Wi-Fi connections, and for setting daily limits on your data consumption.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.