Several tricky issues related to usability in this topic. Biting them off one at a time:
- managing app usage costs (PUT costs)
I think we should try to keep this (and everything else!) very simple and use familiar and proven models where they already exist. For app data usage and costs, we have mobile phone billing systems and data management on mobiles as proven, very widely used and familiar models. These work well, people are used to them, and it is essentially the same problem so I think we should consider doing something very similar.
The problem they solve is the problem we want to solve as a user:
- I need to monitor and control my spending
To achieve this, mobile companies offer either pay as you go usage, or fixed monthly allowances for a regular monthly fee.
These models are already familiar to anyone with a mobile phone (ie virtually all SAFE users) and should be fit for this purpose because it is essentially the same problem.
Pay as you go - this is essentially the default on SAFE: topping up a wallet as needed. The UI needs to make monitoring this unobtrusive and easy. In addition, we can provide the option of setting a…
Monthly (or whatever) total spending allowance. Here the browser limits the overrall spending for all apps once a limit is reached, but that limit is reset each month. So if you stay within it you don’t need to do anything - fire and forget! It’s simple and works well for most of us I think. If the limit is hit, you are notified and decide what to do: increase the limit per month from now on, or just for this period, or stop!
This avoids the complexity and effort of managing individual app limits, but as with your mobile phone we could provide a way to look at per app PUT usage as well. So a user can find out what is using up the allowance they set and choose what to do about it. (This might be tricky technically, so perhaps not practical or at least not available in the early implementation, but I don’t think it is essential - see next).
I think some of us might think we want individual app allowances, but I’d be very surprised if we made use of them. In fact, I think we’ll very rarely even look at what data individual apps use, and instead tend to make adjustments to our behaviour or app selection based on how much data our overall activity is consuming, and how much we want to spend per month.
How often do you look at individual app data consumption on your phone? I know I very rarely look at this - maybe twice ever. I do though keep an eye on how much of my monthly data allowance I have used and from time to time that can affect how much streaming video I watch, but not very often.
I’m interested to know whether this is true for you, or if you have different experiences of monitoring data usage on your phone.