WiFi joy. As part of the never ending process of improving household internet, I’m planning to move the base station unit from our furnace room, to our family room. While I would like to believe everything will get magically better, I need to measure signal strength to see if changes I make are amazing or just meh.
Reviews of the WiFI Analyzers on the app store don’t inspire confidence. (I know about SpeedTest - however it doesn’t measure received signal strength).
(Irony I post this hours after the comment about the web being filled with useless junk)
Back when I switched to an iPhone, I was annoyed to find that Apple doesn’t allow WiFi analyzers in the App Store.
After my last Android device finally stopped working, I found an open source Mac app called Tiny Wi-Fi Analyzer that has the same kind of easy-to-read graphical display as the Android apps I was familiar with.
It’s not as convenient to walk around the house with a MacBook as it is with a phone or tablet, but I’ll take what I can get.
(Like a lot of open source apps from volunteer devs, it’s not signed by Apple because of the cost, so use at your own risk. I was OK with it due to the Apache-licensed open source code.)
The free Apple AirPort Utility runs on iOS and is still allowed (obviously, because it is from Apple).
You don’t need to actually own an (old) Apple Wi-Fi router in order to use it.
Just put it into scan mode and use the search/filter at the top to limit the output to what you want to look at.
IMHO, the graphical display of Tiny Wi-Fi is only marginally more useful but outweighed by having to lug a Macbook around.
Bigger issue is that if you want to do any truly useful analysis, you need a hotspot visual mapping tool.
I use a professional app, Netspot but they do offer a personal/home version for $49.
That’s either crazy cheap (the full pro version is $500) or stupid expensive (versus the free Apple AirPort Utility) depending on how much you need a tool like to this to optimize Wi-Fi equipment purchase and installation.
Covering dead spots while buying less Wi-Fi gear can quickly save you $100 to $500 at a time, though
FYI - If you like the graphical look of Tiny Wi-Fi but want a trusted app, there are plenty of similar apps in the Apple Mac App store that do the same thing for around $2 to $5 one-time purchase price.
Thanks, but I find the AirPort Utility’s list of data a much slower read than the graphical presentation of Tiny Wi-Fi Analyzer and similar Android apps. I only very occasionally need to analyze WiFi signals, so it’s not worth it to me to spend money on it, and if I did I’d probably just buy a used Android phone for that purpose.
The bigger issue is how nonsensical Apple’s prohibition on WiFi analyzers on iOS and iPadOS is. If they’re so bad, why do they allow them in the Mac App Store?
If my neighbors are sending WiFi signals through my house, I ought to be able to view their strength and channels, and use that information to minimize interference, both for their sake and for my family’s own network.
As you know, Apple has stricter privacy/security goals for iPhone than Mac. (Sandboxing was started with iOS and still not as restrictive on macOS).
In early days of Uber, under their founder/controversial CEO, they were cheating for app review by analyzing Wi-Fi network names/signatures and when their app detected it was running in Cupertino (Apple HQ / Campus) it was well-behaved, but when not, presumably, in testing by Apple, they were stealing user’s location and privacy data.
Apple banned access to Wi-Fi data for all apps as they weren’t prepared to outright kick Uber out of the app store.
Instead of kicking the guilty company out of the App Store—say, for 3 or 6 months with a warning of a longer or permanent ban—they decided to punish their users/customers and all the honest devs who weren’t abusing it.
Rather than protecting their users, Apple basically said to hell with their users and protected a bad actor.
I don’t agree at all. It was a ham-fisted response that robbed users and honest devs of useful functionality. They could have taken a more targeted approach and allowed it only for WiFi analyzers and banned it for any apps that can’t demonstrate a legitimate need for it, and booted violators’ apps regardless of their size.
They’ve continued to allow mapping apps like Google Maps to analyze WiFi signals to establish current location anyway. That’s likely at least in part because they favor large developers over small ones, cut them considerably more slack, and are less likely to arbitrarily ban their apps, even when they engage in egregious behavior as Uber did.