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Streaming Data Usage Indicator

For Netflix, YouTube, Pandora and the like.
  [vote for,

Simple, really. As in... so bloody simple I really can't believe they haven't done it already. You know how, when you're browsing apps in the App Store or Google Play Store or whatever Windows calls their mobile app place, the file size of the app is prominently displayed? This is great, because it tells you two equally important things: how much of your device's storage space the app will occupy, and how many kilobytes/megabytes/gigabytes you can expect to be deducted from your monthly data plan allotment when you download it. You see the same thing on torrent sites so when you download a bootleg version of Elysium (crap movie, btw) or Oblivion (still some weak plot points but Better than Elysium) you know the same things. It's great for avoiding overage charges on your statement.

So... why don't streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora Internet Radio, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play All Access, etc. have the file size displayed so you know how much data it'll cost you to stream it? Streaming doesn't use any more or less data than a straight download. The file size is the same. I've measured this (several years ago when I worked in Smartphone Tech Support so I could tell customers a way they could more informedly choose the data plan to best fit their use habits) by downloading a few episodes of Family Guy from Samsung Media Hub (the file sizes of each video were about 240 MB). I then streamed the same episodes on Netflix and checked my carrier data usage records afterword. It was identical.

So. That's the idea. Prominently display the file size of any song or video about to be streamed. For music services such as Pandora, it could display an anticipated usage amount per hour as well as a usage tally running on the screen while it's playing so you know at least roughly what to expect to use before you start a session and how much you've actually used so far. The blanket "warning: this app will use a large amount of data" that such sites currently pop up is just ridiculous. You don't pay for a "large amount of data" each month. You pay for either unlimited data or a very specific amount of data. The numbers are available. They ought to be provided.

(Note: I don't know how important this is in Europe, but in the USA, it is vitally important to be able to keep track of your data usage. Verizon Wireless and at&t Mobility are the two biggest mobile service providers here, and neither of them offer unlimited data plans. Of the 4 major carriers, only the two smallest [Sprint and T-mobile] still do. I was considering switching my service from T-Mobile to Verizon to take advantage of a deal they offered on the Moto X, and saw that the highest data plan allotment they offer is 10 GB per month. I checked my current usage on T-mobile's unlimited data plan and I'm already at almost 15 GB for this billing cycle).

21 Quest, Mar 01 2014


       I suppose the best you can do in the absence of the info would be to make some kind of estimate based on the playing time (and avoid videos offered in HD). A look at the time:size ratios on some downloads reveals quite a lot of inconsitency, but perhaps you could calculate some estimate of the range, and then decide what's worth the risk, and what is not, based on that?

       I've gone in the opposite direction, from GPRS that cost enough to be measured in KB chunks, to ADSL that just keeps getting cheaper and cheaper. The kind of feature I want from YouTube is a "speed up button", so I don't have to dowload videos to watch them in VLC player (which will hurry things along without sounding like Mickey Mouse if you hit +, and slow down to "stoned speed" if you hit "-". Try it. Once you've experienced 2X, normal speed is never fast enough again.)

       Does between 0.0001570 and 0.001046 MB/sec sound right? Or have I fed my numbers in back to front? I suspect the latter.
skoomphemph, Mar 01 2014


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