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When Wi-Fi issues strike, sometimes it is enough to perform the often-quoted technical advice of rebooting. A quick restart of your phone and router and the problem magically disappears. Sadly that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the problems persist.
Luckily we live in the age of the smartphone, and Android is well equipped to help you tackle technical issues. Whether at home or out-and-about, there are two apps that will help you improve your Wi-Fi signal and get you back to your Netflix marathon in no time.
At Home: Wi-Fi Analyzer
Whether you live in an apartment in the city or a house out in the suburbs, every home is likely to have a Wi-Fi router. With so many wireless signals broadcasting on top of each other, the area is likely to be quite saturated with other people’s Wi-Fi.
Luckily there is a solution to this unwieldy mess that slows down your connection.
Wi-Fi routers broadcast signal over a range of different channels. When one channel becomes overloaded with signal from other networks, then your Wi-Fi performance will be affected. Wi-Fi Analyzer helps you to overcome this obstacle by helping you choose the optimal channel for your network.
It isn’t immediately obvious in the app that you can swipe between screens to find different graphs and features. However, other than that one slight initial confusion, the app is very easy to use. There is a graph that shows you how all the Wi-Fi networks overlap on the differing network channels, which gives you nice insight into the most congested channels.
Wi-Fi Analyzer even provides a rated list of available channels for you to choose from.
Once you’ve selected the best channel for your network, finding the optimal spot in your house is the next best improvement you can make.
Wi-Fi Analyzer provides two tools to help you out: a signal strength gauge of your current network, and a graph showing the signal strength of the Wi-Fi networks in the area. Knowing the signal strength of the local networks can also be a great help when you are out and about, trying to select a reliable network.
Download: Wifi Analyzer (Free)
Out & About: WifiMapper
Preserving your data allowance is the name of the game when you’re not at home. That usually means finding a restaurant or shop with an open Wi-Fi network that you can latch onto.
Often, this is a cycle of walking around until you catch wind of a network, connecting, then waiting with baited breath to see if the connection works.
WifiMapper reduces the headache of finding a decent network by crowdsourcing a map of all available open Wi-Fi networks in cities and countries around the world. Opening the app displays a map of your local area with a pin on every known Wi-Fi network. You can finetune the map using the filters to narrow your selections by free or paid, whether registration is required, if the connection is time-limited, and the type of place.
Tapping on one of the pins brings up summary information about the location and the type of network. Tapping the information symbol shows more detail. You can vote to confirm if the network is free or paid, and you can leave tips for that location for other users.
WifiMapper even has an integration with popular check-in service Foursquare to provide you with reviews and ratings of the venue.
The crowdsourced app can only improve by getting as much information as it can on each connection and Wi-Fi network. To help contribute, the app does upload anonymous data to the developers, including the location of networks you connect to. If you are uncomfortable with this, there is an option in the settings to turn off data sharing.
Download: WifiMapper (Free) [No Longer Available]
Ready, Set, Improve!
Wi-Fi can be an invisible mystery to unravel especially when you’re getting less-than-stellar speeds. If you use these apps, you’ll be equipped to quickly troubleshoot a poor connection either at home or on-the-go. After changing your Wi-Fi channel, there are more steps you can take that will dramatically improve your speeds.
If you regularly connect to public Wi-Fi networks then it might also be worth getting yourself a VPN.
Have you tried either of these apps? What did you think? Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Artazum via Shutterstock.com
Originally written on December 2nd, 2011 by Erez Zukerman.