Usage Activity Monitor App
Usage for macOS and iOS is an incredible activity monitor that provides intuitive operation and customizable layouts for users to enjoy. It's a great utility app that is available when you need it, but out of the way when you don't. It provides a lot of valuable system information all in one place. There could be some adjustments made to the existing elements that are available, but it's fully functional as is and has a very moderate pro-level pricing structure.
- EASE OF USE
Activity monitors help users keep an eye on their devices’ health.
Activity Monitors are powerful tools that can be used on any system we work on throughout the day. They have the power to show us the battery life left on our device, the temperature that our computer is running, the memory being used up by various tasks and applications on our systems, and much, much more. All of this data is stored within our devices, but accessing it can be a pain – especially on mobile devices. That’s why utility applications like Usage are developed.
Developed by Oleh Stasula, Usage is a powerful set of utility applications for macOS, iOS, and iPadOS that provide detailed system use information to users. Both sets of apps are designed to be lightweight, customizable, and intuitive for users. The app is designed as an activity monitor that helps to track a system’s performance, processor, disk usage, network activity, and memory pressure as well as additional system reports. It is free to download and use without ad support, but additional features can be unlocked using the Pro version (prices listed below).
Stasula has been a developer for 9 years (since he was 11!) and currently has a full-time job on top of his independent app development projects – like Usage. Both the macOS and iOS versions of the app were developed using SwiftUI. The iOS version was originally launched about 7 years ago but was relaunched after a redesign 2 years ago. The macOS version is only about 9 months old. Stasula is very passionate about developing apps and tries to make high-quality, beautiful software.
The macOS version features a handy menu bar utility with an eye-catching popover widget that provides an in-depth look at user-selected system information. The iOS and iPad version of Usage takes the form of a centralized app that allows users to customize system widgets that highlight specified system info.
Usage Widgets (iOS) is currently on version 4.15.10 and requires iOS or iPadOS 14.1 or later. It was built with SwiftUI The app needs 40MB (36.9 MB on iPad) of disk space for installation and is available in multiple languages. This app does support Family Sharing. This app was actually developed prior to the release of Usage: System Activity Monitor (macOS), which was launched in 2021. Users of Usage Widget started asking for a macOS version and so the developer created it.
Main Features (iOS)
- Monthly and daily Data usage tracking
- Real-time Network Connection monitoring, with Receiving and Sending speed
- Precise Memory allocation by four categories
- Storage usage
- Battery Graph
- Detailed specification about the device’s hardware
- The widgets! Beautiful and fully customizable.
- List of current network interfaces with details and IP addresses
- Different appearance colors and app icons
- Custom ordering
- Compare your device’s specification with any other iPhone or iPad model ever made
- Old style iOS 13 widgets.
Usage: System Activity Monitor is currently on version 1.7.0 and needs approximately 10.1MB of disk space for installation. The app requires macOS 11.0 or later for proper functionality. It’s also available in multiple languages and is listed as a utility in the App Store.
Main Features (macOS)
- Processor – Keep track of how CPU is utilized. View the insightful results on a simple and easy-to-understand historical graph.
- Memory & Swap – Keep up with your RAM’s status through active, inactive, wired, compressed, and free memory tabs. You can also monitor your Swap memory allocation.
- Network – Monitor the network activity of your Mac right from your menu bar.
- Disk – Track your disk usage closely with Usage’s comprehensive and clearly illustrated analysis of your system’s daily usage on a history graph.
- Battery – Get real-time insights on your battery’s charge level and health status.
The developer seems to be very attentive and makes frequent updates to both versions of the app. According to the App Store (Mac and iOS), this app only tracks data that does not link back to its users.
The following data may be collected but it is not linked to your identity: Purchases, Identifiers, Usage Data, Diagnostics
Pro Version Pricing
- Intro Offer: $8.99/year or $12.99/lifetime
- Regular Price (after intro expires): $11.99/year or $19.99/lifetime
- One-time Fee $4.99
*All prices are based on information available at the time of publishing.
Installation & Operation
Installation of Usage – on macOS, iPhone, or iPad – is very simple. Because it’s a free download, you simply click the “Get” button in the respective App Store and then tap or click on the app’s icon after it has been downloaded. Once the app is installed, the operation of the utility is based on how the user decides to customize the widgets and menu bar options.
The iOS app has five main screens that you cycle through. The first is what I refer to as the ‘Usage’ screen. It shows the different types of information you can get reports on. This includes Memory, Storage, Data, Connection, Battery, and Device. Each of these information types has a drill-down included with more precise details. For example, the Device information tells you the name you have specified for your phone, the system version, the uptime, and its last reboot.
Users have the option to change when the app reads the system information and each option is shown based on the impact on the battery. For example, you could have the app read the Memory every 2, 5, or 10 seconds, but the 2-second option has a high impact on the battery. There is also information on how Usage tracks the battery life over time as well as network interfaces.
From the Usage screen, you move over to the Spec screen. This screen provides information about your device in comparison to a second device. I have mine set for the original iPhone and my current model. It’s also fun to use this to compare the specs between your current model and a future model (if specs are available). You can also compare your iPhone to an iPad (or any other device included in the list).
The third screen is all about Widgets. Here you have the option to build your own widgets, customize the pre-designed ones (21 options for iOS 15!), or use a legacy widget. There is also information on the limits of widgets. This helpful guide lets you know that widgets aren’t refreshed in real-time and why that is the case.
The Configs screen is next. This is where users can change the tint color, app icon, and order of the views. To use it, you simply tap on the options you want. The last screen is the About screen. This information tells you about the app and gives you options to download the macOS version leave a review, share a link, send feedback to the developer, change language settings, and more.
Outside the app, users have access to the widget(s) so that system information is available at a glance. To insert a widget, you just tap/hold on one of your iPhone screens until the apps start bouncing. Then you tap on the + symbol. Select Usage and then choose one of the widgets.
When you install the macOS app for Usage, you start with the main application window. If you haven’t purchased the pro version yet, there will be a ‘Become Pro’ tag in the upper right corner. You will also see the ‘Install Helper’ option in the bottom left corner.
Usage has a helper app on the Mac that provides additional features to users that are 100% optional. The app will function fine without the Helper app, but you do get added functionality such as the Processor temperature, Bluetooth Batteries, and Fans. It’s free to use and it’s necessary because apps on the Mac App Store are sandboxed, which prevents them from reading certain sensors.
So, from this main window, users have the option to select the reports/stats they want to appear in the menu bar and the popover. Once you have selected the reports you want, you click ‘save’ and then close the main window. Now the app is operating exclusively from your menu bar. When you click on any part of the menu bar utility, the popover will appear. In the popover, you will see the gear and the Usage brand mark in the bottom corners. The gear gives you the option to Quit Usage and the Usage brand mark opens the main window again.
Thoughts on the Apps
Usage has a lot of really great features to it. One of the best features is the fact that it’s free. I am one of those people that has multiple machines to differentiate between my personal activities and work. My personal MacBook Air (2020, M1) has the Pro version of Usage while the work computer (2019 MacBook Pro, Intel Core i7) has the free version. To be honest, I loved Usage so much on my personal computer that I downloaded it onto my work computer, too.
It’s really nice to see a fully functional, ad-free app that provides valuable system information like this. The free version is fully functional. You get more options with the Pro version and I do prefer the Pro version, but the monitoring functions are still completely available in the free option.
The only criticism I have of Usage on Mac is the Bluetooth battery monitor for the popover. I love that it shows you a connected device’s battery level, but if the device is asleep or in low-power mode, nothing shows up in the popover. I currently have the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro connected to my computer, but both of their cases are closed. Therefore, they aren’t actively connected to the computer. So, the monitor menu is blank.
This menu also does not show my Bluetooth keyboard. The system information window shows the keyboard connected as does the Bluetooth menu bar, but it does not show up in the Usage popover. Other than the Bluetooth monitor not showing all the connected devices, I’ve not noticed any other anomalies with the app. It has a very clean interface and it’s very easy to use.
As far as the iOS version goes, I’m completely enamored with the UI. I’m a nerd when it comes to stats and I love being able to monitor this type of information – even on my phone. I also like being able to monitor disk usage as that is always a problem for me. It’s so easy to customize and it provides me with invaluable information so I can keep my phone in tip-top shape.
Usage is a great activity monitor and if you are looking for something that gets the job done, this is the app system for you. The macOS and iOS pro versions are sold separately, but they are reasonably priced and as I mentioned, you can use the free versions with minimal limitations. I can recommend Usage for all of its platforms and can’t wait to see new functions as they get released.