six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

This week's sponsor

Layers - A thoughtful design conference for the Apple community. June 5-7 in San Jose, right alongside WWDC.

By Dan Moren

Wish List: Sort by cellular data usage in iOS

This one’s short and sweet. Last week I was off traveling and had to rely heavily on my iPhone’s data connection, with Wi-Fi being non-existent in many places and incredibly unreliable in the rest. As the end of the trip approached, I quickly realized that I’d ended up using the bulk of my 4GB monthly data allotment, even though I was only about a week into my billing period.1 Even by dialing back my usage, there was little chance that I wouldn’t go over.

Cellular Usage on iOS

Now, there are plenty of ways to monitor your data usage on iOS: you can use tools provided by your carrier, a third-party app like DataMan, or even go to Settings > Cellular and see an app-by-app breakdown.

But that last option has one key issue. Unlike iOS’s pretty great battery usage breakdown (Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage), the Cellular data screen lists apps alphabetically. Great if you want to turn off cellular data access for a particular app, but what I really want to know is which ones are the worst offenders.

So I’d like a toggle, please, that lets us choose whether to sort by highest data usage or alphabetically by app name. That way I don’t have to scroll through the entire listing of apps to figure out which one is eating up all my data.2

For extra fancy points3, adding filters for the last 7 days or last 24 hours, as Apple already does for battery usage, would be pretty handy as well. Not to mention being able to set a day of the month where your usage automatically resets, since I often forget to manually zero the meter on the first day of my new billing cycle. But, as I said, that’s a gap that third-party apps can fill for now.

Of course, what I really need is an iPhone case that shocks me when I’m using too much data. But let’s maybe hold off on that one for now.


  1. What can I say? Self-control isn’t always my strong suit. ↩

  2. Hulu. It was totally Hulu. But, I mean, come on! I was standing in line for hours on end—what was I going to do, not watch the latest episode of Arrow? ↩

  3. Fancy points are non-redeemable. ↩

[If you appreciate articles like this one, help us continue doing Six Colors (and get some fun benefits) by becoming a Six Colors subscriber.]

[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]