Data Sense, a new data-saving feature in Windows Phone 8, has to be supported and enabled by the carrier â€“ Microsoft says it “will roll out to select mobile operators this holiday and additional partners next year”, with Verizon currently the only confirmed carrier in the US. After all, the feature compresses web pages to save data, so it makes sense to let the carrier do that instead of Microsoft setting up servers itself.
But, that’s not the whole story â€“ Data Sense also tracks data usage on the phone and shows you which app has used how much data. Considering it even tracks data over WiFi, it’s clear that there’s no way this specific feature actually depends on carriers. Indeed, Android has had a similar data counter baked into the settings app since version 4.0, but in Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has decided to make this useful feature carrier-dependent â€“ ironic how the roles have changed.
Adding insult to injury, Windows Phone 8 still hasn’t solved some of the painful problems of Windows Phone 7: it still leaves mobile data on even when connected to WiFi, and turns WiFi off when the screen is locked, which together can lead to completely unnecessary usage of mobile data. Arguably, solving these two trivial problems would be much more useful to the majority of Windows Phone users than introducing carrier-exclusive data-saving features.
However, we’d be happy too if Microsoft simplyÂ did the right thing and released those features that don’t depend on carriers to all Windows Phone 8 users.