Onavo: Shrinks Your Data and Enables Pandora in Canada for Your iPhone

The start up Onavo has been making some buzz lately. Essentially, their app shrinks your data usage to help extend your data plan. This app runs in the background, and is a god send for those with smaller data plans, like the common 500MB plan in Canada.

How Does Onavo Work?

You download the free Onavo app from the App Store, setup a profile, and the app runs in the background. When you’re using your carrier’s data, any web, email and app data is shrunk by Onavo’s servers, then sent back to your iPhone. Onavo is essentially a proxy server that compresses data for Safari, Mail, Facebook, Google Maps, Twitter (only Tweetdeck/Echofon) and other apps.

Onavo also comes into play if you’re using data while traveling. Your roaming data can be extended big time. According to the company, one week’s worth of emails will typically fit into a 25MB plan, but with Onavo enabled, you’ll be able to triple your plan.

Only the data you download is shrunk through Onavo. Your uploaded data will remain unchanged. Since downloaded data is compressed–web pages can load faster, thus making a positive impact on your battery life. The app features settings to change the quality of pictures being downloaded, and also shows how much data you’ve saved, and what applications are using the most data.


The service is so popular that carriers in Canada such as Rogers, Fido, Telus, and Bell have embraced the app, along with 240 carriers around the world.

Here’s what they have to say about privacy:

We take our users’ privacy very seriously, only storing the bare minimum necessary to support the service – all aggregated and anonymized. This is so that the app can report your savings, app usage, etc. We do not store any content such as messages, passwords, etc.

Onavo acts similarly to any router/operator on the Internet through which your data passes. Only metadata (types of applications, etc.) on the data, aggregated and anonymized, is stored for two purposes:

Showing you your data usage and savings
Researching aggregated statistics in order to improve the service
To avoid any doubt, Onavo does not store any content of the data, and cannot read encrypted SSL (HTTPS) traffic. One exception is Exchange Mail traffic, which requires the user’s explicit approval (appears as a Server Authentication message after finalizing the Onavo install process). This can be turned off from the app’s Settings.

So there you have it. If you want data to go through Onavo, it’s a great way to extend your plan. Even with Rogers re-introducing their $30/6GB data plan, Onavo will surely help you save data.

Onavo Will Enable iPhone Users in Canada to Use Pandora Over 3G!

If you’re a fan of US-only music service Pandora (US iTunes account required), you’ll love Onavo. Since the Onavo proxy is run through US-based Amazon Web Services (AWS), that will trick Pandora into thinking you’re in America, thus allowing Pandora to work perfectly in Canada! I’m sure you can get creative and get other US apps working here as well.

Onavo is free–click here to download it from the App Store, and tell me what you think!

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