Despite the availability of network monitoring apps for iOS, the platform has never had something as comprehensive as Android’s OpenSignal. The previously covered Signals 2 works only on jailbroken devices, and doesn’t deal with Wi-Fi networks at all. OpenSignal, on the other hand, offers a speed test, and has the capability of mapping out signal strength for both cellular and Wi-Fi networks. After a long wait, now you can have all these amazingly useful features on your iPhone, as the developers of OpenSignal have just released an iOS variant in the App Store. The app lets iDevice owners sniff out Wi-Fi networks in their vicinity, and also helps them in deciding which cellular network provides the best coverage in their area.
The OpenSignal ‘Dashboard’ displays the name of the network you are currently connected to, along with the total count of Wi-Fi hotspots/access points available near your location. The three dials at the top of the screen display your carrier’s name, the quality of your active internet connection, and the direction from which you are receiving the signal. The compass-like needle in the middle can help you navigate to the physical location of the tower from where you are getting your signals. To view a map showing the Wi-Fi hotspots nearby, tap the ‘Show Networks’ button in the bottom-right corner of the main page. Both open and protected networks are shown by the app, and users can view any network’s identifier by simply tapping it once.
The ‘Speedtest’ tab of OpenSignal performs the routine latency, upload and download speed checks. You get the results in numeric form in the three boxes below the speedometer, which displays the overall results of the test in graphical form. OpenSignal also pays special attention to translating the results into values that are of use in real life, like the expected quality of web browsing, video streaming and VoIP services.
While that’s about it for the Wi-Fi part of OpenSignal, the app deals with cellular coverage and network stats as well. Go to the ‘Coverage’ tab in order to view a signal strength map of your area. It is possible to filter the map to view coverage of a particular carrier, or a certain type of network (3G, 2G, LTE, etc.). If merely a graphical representation of cellular stats isn’t enough for you, OpenSignal also offers its stats in figures. You can view upload/download speeds, ping and reliability of the cellular networks in your area to see which of them offers the best services.
To contribute towards making the service even better, you can keep the tracking options enabled in the OpenSignal settings menu, but this isn’t a requirement for using the app. OpenSignal is a free app, so if you want to get familiar with all the available Wi-Fi hotspots in your area and see which network carrier fares best in your region, head to the link below. The app is optimized for iPhone and iPod touch.