Netgear’s WiFi Analytics is a free Android app that I find very handy when it comes to troubleshooting and monitoring a home network. It’s simple, but that simplicity is its strength and gives home users insight into a home wireless network, without need to know a lot about networking.
What it Does and Where to Get
This free app available on Google Play, checks the strength of a wireless signal, network status, which channels are most crowded with wireless networks, and more.
Relatively small at 459k, the app does not take up a lot of storage space on my Droid Razr M running Android 4.1.2. The app requires Android 2.2 and up.
Using the App
I have my phone connected to my test WiFi network using Netgear’s R6300 router. As soon as I opened the app, the home page showed that I was connected to the router’s WiFi. The same screen also has a meter with measurements of signal strength broken into Poor, Good, and Best. My network connection was in the low end of the Good area of the meter. I could also see that my signal strength was at -45 dBm and at 56%. Additionally, this screen has a button that lets you adjust the scanning time that the apps performs of the network.
There are several icons at the bottom of this screen. One is of a meter/gage, and gets you back to the screen meter view mentioned above.
The next icon is “Home.” Tapping, takes you to a screen labeled “Home Testing”, and is an extremely cool and useful feature. From this screen, you can test and record the signal strength for different areas in your home. By default, there are already rooms set up including: Living Room, Bedroom 1, Office…etc. You can add or edit any room. You move throughout your home and test the signal strength for every room. This feature would be fantastic for help deciding where in one’s home is the best location to place a wireless extender.
Another icon at the bottom is represented by the traditional Wi-Fi symbol – tap it and all Wi-Fi networks in proximity are displayed. You can see which channel each router/access point in the area is using. If you are getting slow performance, you can adjust your channel settings if one seems crowded (careful with this, as depending on the country there are a limited number of channels you can use for the 2.4 and 5GHz bands).
Other information displayed about neighboring networks includes SSID name, encryption level, MAC address of each access point, and signal strength. You can tell the app when to auto-scan for neighboring wifi networks from this screen and you can filter the view to display only 2.4 GHz networks or only 5GHz.
Another menu option at the bottom of the screen opens the “Channel Interference” view. This view shows you the worst and best channel to set a network to; recommends channels; and shows how many networks are on a specific channel.
The next icon opens a graph of the signal strength of all nearby access points. This is a great feature for those who routinely connect to public Wi-Fi. You can quickly see which hotspot’s access points in a given area are emitting the strongest wireless signal.
Finally, there is one last icon on the bottom of the home page screen which shows a real-time graph of signal strength over time.
Remember, this is a pretty bare-bones app that is ideal for use in a home networking situation. Small business Wi-Fi deployments would be better served by more robust tools such as inSSIDer for Office, or WiFiBuilder, both of which have additional capabilities and analytics for professional deployments.
It continually amazes me, how Wi-Fi apps are allowing us to turn our mobile devices into wireless tools that years ago, you would need dedicated, expensive hardware to get some of the same information about wireless networks. While the Netgear Wi-Fi Analytics app is simple, and provides no customization options, it’s useful and efficient at displaying basic wireless network information that can be used to optimize the wireless networking experience. It’s an easy 4 out of 5 stars for networking utilities.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc