In today’s hyper-connected world, nobody would dream of living without 24-hour internet access. The downside of having the world at your fingertips is that constantly exceeding your mobile data allocation can be an expensive business. So how can you calculate how much data you really need on your mobile plan and what you should be paying for it?

Everyone’s data usage varies, which means there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It comes down to your personal online habits and preferences. If regularly watching YouTube videos is your thing, you’ll burn through a lot more data than if you simply use your smartphone to check your email and for the odd Google search.

Like most things, data usage can quickly add up without you realising it. If you have an iPhone with an 8-megapixel camera, for example, uploading a single photo at full resolution on Facebook or other social media platforms can use up to 1.5MB. Upload a whole album of photos, and there goes a big chunk of data.

How much data does the average user consume?

The average Australian mobile phone handset internet subscriber used around 630MB of data per month in 2014, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Based on this finding, opting for a mobile plan with a minimum of 1GB of data would be the safest choice.

It’s important to remember, however, that data usage is only going up. In 2013 the average monthly usage figure was around 250MB per month, which means there was a 152% increase in the average usage within one year. With the upwards trend only likely to continue, the 2015 figure will be higher still.

What are the telcos providing?

No mobile phone plan in Australia includes unlimited data, but over the years the telcos have increased their data inclusions to keep up with growing usage.

These days most mid-tier plans around the $50 per month range come with between 1GB and 4G of data. That should cover the needs of the majority of users, but again heavy download usage such as video streaming can easily blow that out.

For $70 a month or more, you can upsize your limit to between 7GB and 10GB of data, and if you’re willing to fork out as much as $130 a month, you can score 20GB. That should cover even the heaviest of usage, allowing for a fair amount of video and music streaming.

How can I keep track of my data usage?

Before you decide how much data you’re likely to need, it’s a good idea to monitor your existing usage. Luckily, smartphones make that easy with data tracking tools already built into your phone.

On both iPhones and Android phones, you can find your data usage in the Settings mode, while Window Phone users have a data usage app called Data Sense that allows you to pre-set your existing plan allowance and monitor your current mobile and Wi-Fi data usage.

Telcos are also willing to help by providing tracking tools, either via a mobile website, or increasingly via a specific app for your smartphone. Keep in mind, though, that these can be slow in updating, sometimes being as much as 24 hours behind actual usage.

Considering that as we become more heavily reliant on our smartphones, our data usage is likely to increase, it may be wise to give yourself a buffer when calculating your monthly usage. And banish those over-the-limit data blow outs once and for all.

How much data do you use, and are there any plans you find to be great value? Share with us in the comments!

Bessie Hassan is the Consumer Advocate at finder.com


We continue our March Technology series with an interview with Jessica Wilson, who recently stormed into the tech world with the creation of her app Stashd.

What we love about Jess is her openness, and absolute commitment to creating a cutting edge app, building it from the ground up. Read on more to find out about one of Australia’s newest tech stars!

What is one thing that we don’t know about your career?

Jessica: I am not a techie and I am the CEO of a tech company! This is something that people find it hard to wrap their heads around. The idea is that I really know the industry that I am working in [the fashion industry], and I use tech as an enabler, rather than just throwing tech at things because that is the thing to do right now.

What is one thing that you can share about your day-to-day life?

Jessica: As founder of a start up, life is really up and down. I think a lot of people have founders bipolar! You need to learn how to manage your state, how you are going to take on all of these challenges and how you will cope mentally. Something that I have found helpful is daily meditation. It is so important to ground yourself to what is actually happening, a lot of people don’t voice how hard it really is! You see all the perks in the media, with that is a lot of hard work and you have to figure out how you manage yourself mentally.

What is your personal philosophy?

Jessica: I grew up on a farm in Coffs Harbor and have always believed that you are able to create your own opportunities. A lot of people think “Oh this happened to me, poor me”. I think you can create your own life, put yourself in the right opportunities and dictate what you do more than people think you can.

What is one piece of technology that you can’t live without?

Jessica: Stashd! But asides from Stashd, I am tied to my iPhone and laptop! 

Don’t miss out on our full interview with Jessica Wilson to find out how she went from being told that she “didn’t have a career in fashion” in her, to changing the way we shop online.


This is the final article in our January tech series, “Things to ask your…” . Check out the other articles in the series, Three things to ask your… Software developer, Four things to ask your… Website developer and Four things to ask your… Social media manager!

You may be in the position where you’ve found that simply having a website isn’t enough. Perhaps it’s not responsive, and can’t be viewed nicely on all screen sizes (and would cost a lot to create from scratch!). Perhaps your business requires a lot of interaction with clients and customers that would be better handled by a specific app which streamlines the process and makes it quick and simple for them to go through the process, and provides a higher chance of making that sale. Or maybe you simply have a stunning idea which you know would do incredibly well as an app.

Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to create an app. You have all the functionality documented and ready to go. Now you need to hire someone to actually build the app for you. Here are three things you should be asking potential candidates!

What is your background in design?

An app lives or dies by its design and user experienceAn app lives or dies by its design and user experience. Unless you have someone on your end who’s highly experienced in design and UX, the bulk of this responsibility will fall on the app developer. App design isn’t simply about making things look good – when you have the limited real estate of a phone screen, the design also needs to cater for how easily a user can move from one step to the next, and how buttons and other interactive elements are designed and placed to cater to big, clumsy fingers.

A good app developer will have an innate understanding of these design considerations, and more besides. Colour and contrast for a device used in both a dark bedroom and in bright sunlight. Simplicity that masks complex processes underneath. There are many things a good app designer must keep in mind while designing a mobile app, so ensure that your developer is well-grounded in design and user experience.

What is your understanding of my business?

This is closely related to the question above. In order to ensure the design is best suited for your needs and customer interactions, the app developer should have at least a basic understanding of what you do. That’s not to say they need to be able to rattle out your processes in detail, but they should at least understand the purpose of your business, and the purpose of your app within your business.

For example, while two businesses may both want an eCommerce app, a specialty store that stocks a very small variety of premium goods will need a completely different design and user experience to a general store that has thousands of different products. A good app developer will be able to explain the differences in design choices between the two, and why.

How easy (or hard) will it be to port my app to other platforms?

Much as Apple or Google would like us to believe that developing exclusively for iOS or Android is all you need, that will never be the case. The mobile market is fragmented across different operating systems (OS), including the much-overlooked Windows Phone OS. Although you may only be developing on one platform right now due to budget (and time) constraints, it’s possible that you’ll want to make your app available on other platforms in the future.

It’s important to ensure that your app can be ported to other platforms without needing to rebuild everything from scratch. But keep in mind that even if an app can be deployed to multiple platforms, the differences in operating systems can also lead to performance differences across platforms. How well is the code optimised for each OS? Or if you do decide to go down two separate paths for your app, how will you ensure both are kept updated, and the features are the same across all OSes?

These are questions worth asking your app developer, and a good one will help you with that long-term plan – and build a relationship where they can help you carry it out!
Featured image: IntelFreePress

Do you have any other questions we should be asking our app developers? Share them in the comments!


Perhaps you’ve heard of the term hyper-connectivity. This is a relatively new term, generally used to talk about how we’re connected not only person-to person, but person-to-machine and machine-to-machine. It almost sounds Matrix-like, but  it’s a very real thing that’s happening in our lives right now.

Technology all around us

With the recent release of iOS8, the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as well as many Android devices, technology is now being woven into every waking minute of our day.

The new Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Gear and other watches are integrating more phone-like characteristics. Most will only work with our smartphones or mobile devices. So not only do we have a pared-down phone on our wrists, but we also have to keep our mobiles nearby, making it much more difficult to disconnect.

With each new update to the operating systems, there is a closer integration with our daily activities. For example, the Apple iHealth Kit and Home Kit means that not only will you be able to monitor your daily health stats via your mobile, but also control more aspects of operating your home (home kit). The prices of these applications/accessories means that they will be available for more consumers rather than only a luxury item. It’s not hard to imagine that they’ll be common before long.

Is wearable tech taking over our lives?

I currently own a FitBit © which I love using daily. For me, it has made me much more active (and no I haven’t given it up after 6 months).  I have noticed like with any new gadget, there becomes several new habits that weren’t there before (and not always habits I would have predicted).

My FitBit © is programmed to have an silent alarm for each morning. Each day is different depending on what activities I have regularly planned. If I forget to put the FitBit back onto my wrist, it will still vibrate and go off (meaning I have to still get out of bed to stop it from beeping).

When it’s charging, not having it with me becomes in inconvenience. I love that I get an email from FitBit saying that the battery is low, but often leave it to the last minute. This means that I am not wearing the FitBit whilst going for a morning walk or exercise (hence not measuring steps/sleep which then I want to make up to my magic ‘10,000 steps a day’).

It also affects my life when I’m wearing it. I went for a bike ride the other day, and was disappointed that my step count wasn’t as high–even though I had completed 45 mins of exercise.

Currently with the FitBit © Flex, there is no way to gauge EXACTLY how many steps, km’s or calories you have burned, unless you sync it to your mobile device or laptop. This means at the moment I will check in on my mobile several times a day (I can tap on my Flex and it will tell me roughly how many steps I am up to – each dot is represented via 2,000 steps which is my daily goal). It also means at night time I have noticed I become a little OCD in making sure I get all the elements coloured green (hit the daily target, such as 10,000 steps, 8.05km, 2,184 calories or 30 minutes of active exercise).

My sleeping habits aren’t the best, so I only glance at these figures perhaps once a week.

Balancing connectivity

This experience has show me how difficult it can be to disconnect from your mobile devices, especially if they are connected to other things such as a smart watch or fitness device. These days, I have finally stopped checking the results of my exercise every waking moment, and just usually check at night time to see how much exercise I’ve done.

As for other wearable technology, I would love an Apple Watch but my biggest concern would be how many extra pieces of technology I’d be relying on to complete simple everyday tasks.  The FitBit © already impacts so many aspects of my life–I can’t imagine what would happen with a smartwatch!

But in the end, only time will tell the impacts of these gadgets on our lives.

Featured image: HasinHayder

Megan Iemma

Technology Coach and “IT” girl Megan Iemma is a thought leader in the world of technology and its uses. An educator and techno geek, Megan combined her passions for education and technology and founded Tech Coach HQ  working with businesses and their teams to improve processes and embrace the productivity technology has to offer.


Google Maps has always been a great tool for getting directions and looking up places you’re about to visit. But did you know that it can do a lot more? Here are three of its lesser-known features that you might find useful in your everyday life.

#1 Get directions for public transport

Screenshot 2014-05-19 15.05.53

For many major cities around Australia and the world, Google Maps can provide public transport directions. (Melbourne is the only capital city still not on board – sorry Melbournians!)

It’s as simple as going to the site, typing in “<Place A> to <Place B>” and selecting the little train symbol just above the list of directions. Google Maps not only provides the name of the train line or the bus number, it also tells you what time it arrives at your stop.
Note: Only useful if your public transport actually follows the schedule!

I especially love this feature when I’m overseas and have no clue what bus goes where, or which stop to get off. It really helps when I can’t read the language.

It can also provide walking and cycling directions, and local flights. You can find the full list of cities where public transport is covered here.

#2 See real-time traffic conditions

Screenshot 2014-05-19 15.36.06

If you’re driving, you can zoom in on the map and see the traffic conditions on your route. Blue means conditions are as normal, yellow means mild congestion, red means congestion, and dark red means you’d better have some good music on your stereo because you’re going to be there a while.

You can also search for traffic near a place by simply typing “traffic near <place name>”. In this case, free-flowing traffic is green instead of blue. It’s very useful when you want to know what traffic is like along your usual routes, so you can detour if necessary.

#3 Explore an area

Screenshot 2014-05-19 15.51.53

You can choose a city you’ll be visiting (or even your own, if you’re so inclined!) and click on the little photo and arrow icon on the bottom right corner of Google Maps. It’s just below the “+” and “-” buttons for zooming in and out.

This pops up a strip along the bottom of your page which lists many popular sights in the area. You can click on them to see photos of each attraction, and it even draws a line to show the exact location on the main map. It’s a great way to plan a trip, and get an idea of what you want to see.  Or for those who can’t afford to travel, it’s also a great way to have a mini-holiday from the comfort of your own home!

What Google Maps features do you like to use, or find particularly useful? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!


Megan Iemma will be doing a series of posts about the nifty, useful technology she uses around the home. This week, we’re starting with the kitchen!

One of my favourite rooms in my house is the kitchen. This is because it involves two things I love: food and people. When I moved out of home, I spent a lot of money buying gadgets for my kitchen. The more adventurous I became with my cooking, the more advanced the gadgets became.

In fact, I’ve managed to accumulate so many since my uni days that they’ve taken over the linen cupboard in the laundry (and overflowed into kitchen cupboards and the garage).

What’s hot these days are devices that connect with apps for your smartphone or tablet. Companies such as Samsung and LG are beginning to release connected versions of appliances we think of as ‘normal’. Samsung has the Samsung Smart Home service, while LG has come up with the LG Homechat system. Both were released earlier this year at CES (Consumer Electronics Show)—however, some of these items are still in product development, or have a limited range.

The biggest problem that we have is that technology changes quickly, and the lifespan of these products is becoming shorter. If you have heard the phrase ‘They never make them like they used to’, you would be right. Don’t get me wrong, I love my gadgets—especially in the kitchen. But something you should consider is if the product doesn’t continue getting updates, will it still work in two years or more into the future?

Currently Available

iGrill

iDevices-iGrill2-Lifestyle-iPhone_Steak

For all those who love to BBQ and (for those who wish they could) this is the perfect device along with the app to help you master that perfect steak! There are three devices in this range and this takes the guesswork out of your next grilled dinner!

Kitchen Thermometer

iDevices-KitchenThermometer-Lifestyle-iPad-Roast

With the next season of Masterchef fast approaching in Australia, a digital kitchen thermometer is a must-have device in any foodie’s kitchen, especially when cooking chicken.

Prep Pad

Prep_Pad__3

Digital scales are valuable in any kitchen, and working out the nutritional value of each of your ingredients really makes healthy eating trackable. The Prep Pad is easily wipeable, and connects with the app. It weighs up to 6.8 kg of produce and is 22.86 cm long for easy chopping and preparation.

Egg Minder

egg minder

This device is a 12-egg  carton that tracks how many eggs you have, as well as their freshness. I love eggs and they are usually well and truly gone before they ever get to the expiry date—however, I can definitely see this being an advantage for those who live on their own.

Editor’s note: Currently unavailable on the main store, but it can be found in other online stores such as Amazon.

Coming Soon

WeMo CrockPot

WeMoSlowcooker

There is nothing worse than when autumn or winter comes around and you want to use your slow cooker/crockpot… but you have to leave the house at 7 in the morning and won’t get back home till 5 pm! How about a slow cooker you can control via an app? You can turn it on or off, and change the heat settings, all while at work. This is coming in mid-2014.

Future wishlist (for the serious foodies!)

Whirlpool Interactive Cooktop

Now, this definitely could be a key feature in my kitchen one day. It has an induction cooktop as well as an interactive screen for your social media, email, recipes etc. No more dirty fingers on the iPad as you are trying to find the recipe from Pinterest or Taste.com.au.

What technology do you use in your kitchen? Tell us in the comments – we’d love to hear about it!

Featured Image: Philips Communications 
All other images taken from press-provided photos from the companies.

Megan Iemma
Technology Coach and “IT” girl Megan Iemma is a thought leader in the world of technology and its uses. An educator and techno geek, Megan combined her passions for education and technology and founded Tech Coach HQ  working with businesses and their teams to improve processes and embrace the productivity technology has to offer.