Free is always a good price in our books, and when it comes to mobile apps you really can get yourself a huge array of great software without spending a penny.
Or not at first, at least. A new survey from Virgin Media Business has revealed that free apps are chewing up our mobile data allowances at a frightening rate, with one app making its way through as much as 115MB of data in a single hour.
The app in question? Tap Zoo, which in just five minutes of being tested had fired off 9.7MB of data.
“This is signaling messages,” Dimitris Mavrakis, analyst with Informa Telecoms and Media – the company that conducted the research for Virgin – told PC Pro.
“Your phone needs to transfer traffic (download, upload or send an instant message on Tap Zoo), your phone has to 'open' a connection to the network for that to work.”
The majority of apps are nowhere near that bad, of course, The research found that on average, the top 50 free mobile apps used 10.7MB an hour, while the average mobile data user consumes 119MB on app data every month.
But that figure is rising all the time – as is the number of users with smartphones in the first place, and with predictions that we'll through seven times as much data in 2015 as we use today, Mavrakis says the networks are starting to feel the pressure.
“With smartphone users already making up two-thirds of all mobile traffic, despite just 13% of mobile users possessing a smartphone, you can see why operators are starting to get worried,” he said.