With roaming costs continuing to go up, one app, Onavo, plans to try and help you save money when it comes to accessing the Internet outside of your local area.

If you are wondering, Onavo means "a clever investment" in Cantonese, but is installing this app, a clever investment?

We downloaded it, installed, it and then flew to America to find out.


If flying half way around the world seems a bit extreme to test an app it’s because Onavo’s core functionality is shrinking your data to save you cash on your roaming fees. That’s a nice idea considering mobile phone operators around the world are happy to charge you through the roof, and while in the UK, most operators give you a reasonable deal on calls, it’s data that’s where they get you. In the US you can play up to £5 a MB so any way to save on that is welcomed.

Currently in closed beta, but opening up for everyone shortly, Onavo works by installing a profile on your iPhone and then re-routing all your streaming through that.

Of course after you’ve set it up you hardly notice. Yes pictures are degraded, but if it’s saving you cash we’re sure you can live without crystal perfect images for the duration of your trip.

The app is fairly straightforward with three menu panels to navigate through: My Savings, Save Money, and Add-ons.

The My Savings gives you a running total of what you’ve saved showing you a simple chart broken down in the apps that have eaten the most data. Facebook normally being the culprit. Each trip can be stored and collected so you can see what’s what at glance when looking back.

Save Money lets you start and stop the service, although it’s worth pointing out that you can just leave it running all the time – handy if you’re on a tight data package.

Add-ons, fairly short on offering at the moment allows you to individually set which apps you want to be affected by Onavo. The Facebook Add-On promises to help you save 50  per cent, while the Instagram offering claims 70 per cent saving. As we’ve said there are a handful at the moment, but we would expect this to grow as the service matures, it could certainly to with a Twitter offering for example.

In practice and it works very well with the app clearly showing you what you are saving and when you access when it’s working. Onavo works in the background so you’ll soon forget it’s there and we experienced no additional battery drain when we tested it.

Furthermore it doesn't affect your calling capabilities, or your Wi-Fi access so if you need to access large files or download a big app you aren’t going to run into trouble.

At the moment it’s in private Beta and it’s free, however Onavo is still working out pricing for the service and whether it will or will not charge for its expected launch in April.

That will determine whether it's a must have or something that in the long run doesn’t save you much cash unless you are a heavy user.

Oh and Android users thinking this is great, don't panic, Onavo say they are developing an Android version too.