Planet of the Apps

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Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker
Free; Android, iPad, iPhone

The telecoms watchdog wants to improve the speed of your broadband. Not through its usual tactic of making tutting sounds at ISPs but by helping you to check the speed of the last few yards of the internet’s journey to your device: your wi-fi. A badly sited router, crowded airwaves and electrical interference — Christmas lights give the app’s release a seasonal push — can all slow your connection. Fire up the app and it runs two tests to estimate wireless speed and detect data loss caused by a weak signal. Take readings around the house to uncover problem areas. It’s less useful when it comes to advice: move your wireless router and/or turn it off and on again. Any other problems, complain to your ISP. Isn’t that your job, Ofcom?

Apple users click to download
Android users click to download

Wifi Analyzer
Free; Android

Much more powerful is this tool for Android, because it sniffs out not just your own network but any nearby ones too. If you live in a terrace or a flat there could be a dozen networks overlapping yours, and if many are on the same frequency — a wireless router can broadcast over a choice of 11 channels — all will suffer speed drops. This app maps those networks and shows you the clearest channels. Again, you’re on your own when it comes to a fix. Tip: some routers will scan channels to find a free one on being restarted, or you can type your router’s IP address into a browser and tweak the settings yourself.

Android users click to download

Fing
Free; Android, iPad, iPhone

Worried that a neighbour could be pinching your bandwidth? Use Fing to see just who and what are on your network at any time; even if next door hasn’t cracked your password, it’s still useful to see which of your own gadgets are online (and possibly slowing your connection). You can send a test “ping” to each — a burst of data designed to check the connection speed of, say, a wireless printer. If the ping is slow to return, consider moving the device nearer to the router.

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