As a mobile tech enthusiast, I’ve been encouraging people for the past decade not to be afraid in trying out the latest technologies that are already available to us. But there’s one thing I’m having a hard time to convince people to use.
Based on my observations for the past few years, Filipino mobile phone users are afraid to be connected to their Telcos’ mobile data. I can’t blame them because back in early 2000, uninformed postpaid subscribers complained about their bills that went high like a skyrocket after using mobile data on their phones. I experienced it too in 2003 when an officemate borrowed my Smart Amazing Phone to check his Friendster page. I couldn’t use my phone the next day because my postpaid account has exceeded its limit.
These same factors also happened to prepaid users. Turning on the 3G connection by accident would immediately charge the subscriber and you could hear them grumble “P*t*ng I*a! Nakain ang load ko!” This fear of being connected to the Telcos’ mobile data went on for years. Even when LTE is already available to us Filipinos, I can still hear these phrases:
“May WiFi ba dito?” “Mamaya na ako magcoconnect pagdating sa mall kung saan may WiFi.” “Ayaw ko mag-3G, kuripot ako eh, hehe!” Really?! You buy the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone and you don’t want to use 3G because you’re kuripot?
We have affordable unlimited mobile internet for Php 50 a day, and we even have sachets like “Unli-Twitter for 2 days” or “Unli-Waze for 5 pesos per day.” These offers are good, but unfortunately, they’re not working as advertised. People are still complaining “Di naman totoo yan! Nanakaw pa rin ang load ko!!” Even the Free Facebook promotion of Globe encountered the same problem among their smartphone users. “Free? Bakit pa rin ako nabawasan?” The reason why this is happening is because smartphones can run multiple apps in the background, and most people do not know how to close apps that were previously opened. If a user subscribes to an unli-service like free Facebook but other applications like the smartphone’s web browser are left open or being used, then naturally he will be charged by the network.
HOW CAN THIS PROBLEM BE SOLVED?
On the last Friday before Christmas Day, the passionate folks of Chikka (yes, the guys who invented the free SMS messaging app a decade ago) invited a few of us bloggers for a private lunch meeting. Apparently, we have the same observation about Filipino smartphone users – Takot magconnect sa 3G. They acknowledged the problems of these users, especially smartphone users and they showed us how they could solve it.
With Smart Communications on board (Chikka was acquired by Smart in 2009), they developed the Smart Power App which lets subscribers pay for what they really use. No more “nakaw-load.” Each of us were lent a smartphone with a Smart Prepaid SIM card already installed and we went ahead to test the app. Mr. Chito Bustamante, President of Chikka, was beside me and personally assisted me in navigating the app. The tests were all good, but I wanted to do another test on my own.
HOW DOES SMART POWER APP WORK?
Smart Power App basically prevents other apps of your Android smartphone to access your mobile data connection so that you will not incur any extra charges while you’re on a current subscription.
The Power App has 5 subscriptions available to Smart Prepaid subscribers:
- Email: Unli access to Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook and more for Php 5 good for 3 hours.
- Chat: Unli access to Line, WeChat, Viber for Php 5 good for 3 hours.
- Photo: Unli access to Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest for Php 10 good for 3 hours.
- All Access: Unli access to all apps & sites except video streaming and bit torrent sites. Php 15 for 3 hours.
- Social: Unli access to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Path, etc. for 24 hours for FREE!
Before I started my test on the app, I checked my load balance first. It shows that I have Php 176 left in my Smart Prepaid account.
I then turned on the Smart Power App and selected the Unli Social option which is currently FREE for 24 hours until January 15, 2014.
As you can see in the screenshot, it advised me which apps I can use while I’m subscribed to the service.
I received a confirmation message afterwards as well as the expiration of my 24 hour subscription.
So went on and used Facebook and Twitter like I normally do. When I tried to open a website during my Unli-Social subscription, this appeared on my screen:
I also tried opening other apps that required internet access like Instagram but they refused to connect to get connected to my mobile data.
This is the best feature of the app which I’ve been talking about. It prevents you from incurring any extra charge even if you try to open or leave other apps open that are not related to the subscription you’ve chosen. However, if you choose to proceed, you can choose to apply the BOOST option which will only cost you for Php 5 for 15 minutes. BOOST can let you do anything, it means you’re already on UNLIMITED INTERNET for 15 minutes. What happens after 15 minutes, will I get charged an additional Php 5 until the rest of my load becomes empty? The answer is NO. Unless you choose to use BOOST again or choose another subscription, the charges stop there. Oh, the folks from Chikka and Smart added a reminder in the notification window of my current subscription.
This is really a helpful feature and subscribers do not have to do anything to check the status of their chosen subscription. The BOOST feature is also there shall you need to access unlimited data for 15 minutes.
I checked my balance again. Was my load deducted?
Okay. My load is still intact at Php 176.00. Whew!
A couple of days later, I decided to try their All Access Internet which costs Php 15 for 3 hours and Php 30 for 1 day.
I’ve chosen the Php 15 subscription.
And I got the confirmation message.
Being on All Access Internet ought to be okay for some people. But sometimes you want to watch YouTube videos and during this time, I wanted to see those Kobe Paras dunks in the recent FIBA 3-on-3. While subscribed to All Access Internet, I was prevented to access YouTube so I will not be charged extra.
I decided to use the BOOST feature and agreed to be charged Php 5 for 15 minutes.
And my registration to BOOST was successful.
Then I watched Kobe Paras’ awesome dunks!
How much was the damage in my prepaid load? I was able to check 2 days later. Php 20 was deducted for my usage last December 24.
NO MORE BAWAS LOAD!
After a week of using the Power App, I can attest that the Smart Power App really works. My prepaid load was only deducted for the services I paid for and were not consumed by the other apps I have left opened, thanks to the Power App. I encountered some issues lately, like unable to subscribe to Unli-Social but after a couple more tries I was able to get through. The app is still in Beta so Chikka is closely observing on areas that needs to be improved.
If you are using an Android smartphone, I strongly suggest downloading the Smart PowerApp now from the Play Store. If you’re using a Talk ‘N Text SIM card, you can opt for the TNT PowerApp instead. And if you’re a Facebook junkie, Smart PowerApp’s UnliSocial is free up to January 15. Go ahead, use it and magsawa ka mag-FB! 🙂
I’m thankful that such a solution was developed by Chikka and Smart to encourage more people to go on mobile data. I am hoping that the Smart Power App becomes really stable and be true against unnecessary deduction of load.