Struggling to get a good wireless connection on your phone? Want to see what sort of activity is taking place on your local network? Or maybe you just want to send a ping?
In the absence of a PC, your Android smartphone can act a powerful network management device. Try these six Android networking tools to get started.
1. JuiceSSH: Secure Network Communication
You can remotely access most devices that share your network. But for secure communications, SSH (which stands for Secure Shell) is the best option.
Available for free, JuiceSSH is like having a Linux terminal in your pocket. If you’re connecting to a computer, phone, or tablet with an active SSH server, you’ll be able to operate the device remotely.
Along with offering Telnet functionality, the app has copy and paste, clickable URLs, and will save multiple SSH profiles for different connections. There’s even support for two-factor authentication with Google Authenticator or other 2FA apps, to keep your connections secure.
JuiceSSH is the best SSH client on Android, and the perfect tool for remote command line access across a network.
You can unlock further features with an in-app purchase. These include encrypted backup of your connections, multiple device sync, and team collaboration.
Download: JuiceSSH (Free, $5 premium version available)
2. Fing: Check Wi-Fi Network Security
Want to find out how secure your network is?
Bundling various networking tools into one easy-to-use app, Fing is the Swiss Army knife of mobile network security. Featuring intruder detection, network monitoring, port scanning, a connectivity checker, and a network device inventory tool, the app also handles basic commands like ping and traceroute.
These features (and more) make Fing the perfect penetration testing tool for Android. As well as snuffing out unknown intruders, you can employ it to detect managed intrusion attempts, enabling you to harden your network.
A $99 piece of hardware, the Fingbox, unlocks additional functionality when plugged into your router. This introduces features such as bandwidth analysis, a network-wide internet kill switch, and more. However, this device isn’t necessary to use Fing—consider it a specialist buy for networking enthusiasts only.
Download: Fing (Free)
3. NetCut: Kill Network Connections
Essentially a network sniffer, NetCut can manage devices connected wirelessly to your router. The app detects all connections, permitted or otherwise.
If you find hardware on your network that shouldn’t be there, you can use NetCut’s kill switch to disconnect it. NetCut can also detect ARP spoofing, a technique used by hackers to gain access to a network.
While it has a good selection of features, please note that NetCut will only run on a rooted Android device. There’s also an upgrade available that you can unlock from within the app. This introduces features such as fast scan, searching by IP/name/brand, and improved reporting tools.
Download: NetCut (Free, premium version available)
4. Network Connections: Monitor Inbound and Outbound Traffic
Your Android phone or tablet is probably online most of the time. But what apps and services are connecting to the internet, what data are they downloading (or uploading), and where is that data headed?
An easy way to find that information quickly is with the Network Connections app. It enables you to keep an eye on inbound and outbound connections; you’ll see notifications when hidden apps connect to remote servers. This is useful for determining what apps are misbehaving—they could be malware, for example.
Other features include details about remote IP addresses and the ability to log and export data captured by the app. If you want to better manage what your apps are doing online, start with this totally free utility.
Download: Network Connections (Free)
5. Meteor: Check Your Device’s Network Speed
How fast is your internet connection? It’s difficult to get through the week without having some thoughts about the slowness of your internet. This happens regardless of how fast your connection is, and doesn’t matter which device you’re using.
While you can access speed testing websites from any device, having a mobile app that can check speed the speed of your wireless connection (or even your mobile network speed) is quite useful.
Meteor offers speed and connection testing, with the results helping you decide which apps are best suited for your network speed.
You can test speed and performance for 16 popular apps, and the app lets you compare results too. Meteor will also help you find “slow” areas (also known as blackspots) around your wireless network. Once you’ve detected them, use our guide to boost your wireless router signal.
Download: Meteor (Free)
6. Ping: Basic Ping Tool
What if all you want to do is send a ping command to quickly assess network connectivity?
You might use JuiceSSH, Fing, or one of the other tools with ping functionality. Or you might simply opt for Ping, an app whose purpose is just to ping a destination IP address. (If that doesn’t make sense, our guide to what a ping is should help.)
The app is easy to use. After launching, you input the IP address you want to test, click Start, and await the result. Ping will tell you if the destination device is online or down, and give you an idea of how quickly it reached the device, measured in milliseconds (ms).
You’ll also find a feature to display accurate connection speed in this app.
Download: Ping (Free) [No Longer Available]
Your Android Networking Arsenal
Getting online with an Android device is simple. But knowing just what’s going on across the network can be vital. The tools we’ve looked at should give you everything you need to monitor connections, check which apps are sending and receiving data, establish secure connections, or simply send a ping.
To reiterate, the apps you should try are:
- Network Connections
Others are available, but you shouldn’t need much more than this.
For more on networking, check out our guide to diagnosing a network problem with your computer.