We look at six Wi-Fi related applications for the mobile Android platform – and all of them are free. These Android apps can help you discover and analyze nearby networks, create your own Wi-Fi hotspot and manage your Wi-Fi connections.
Use this Wi-Fi stumbler and analyzer when setting up APs, checking channel usage of neighboring APs, troubleshooting Wi-Fi issues and Wi-Fi security auditing.
Viewing the AP list gives you details on each nearby AP: SSID, MAC address, encryption, channel, and signal in negative dBm levels via a graphical bar and text readout. APs with the same identifiers will be automatically grouped. If you're connected to an AP, you can also see the details of the connection (SSID, MAC, and IP). You can export the AP list and/or take a snapshot of the screens.
There are several more views/tools as well. The channel graph shows each AP's channel and signal. The time graph then shows the history of channel and signal info. The channel rating page gives you recommendations on channel usage. Last but not least, the signal meter view can help you find the APs with a visual signal meter and sound effects.
WiFi Manager helps you find, connect and manage Wi-Fi networks quicker and easier than using the Android settings. Open the app, and you'll see a list of nearby APs with their details: SSID, encryption, channel and signal level (via bars, dBm or percentage). You can sort by signal, SSID, or list open APs first. You can also select to see all known APs -- to which you've previously connected. It also features a Wi-Fi radar view to help you visualize the channel and signal status of nearby networks.
- It includes a widget you can add to your home screen that displays connection info for the Wi-Fi network you're connected to
- It supports all the 2.4 GHz channels 1 - 11 for the U.S. and up to 14 for other countries. It also supports the 5 GHz band for those devices with a dual-band Wi-Fi radio
- If you purchase the $1.75 premium package you get a few more features: another widget that lets you switch between networks with a single tap and the capability to set advanced per-network options (description, icon, auto static or dynamic IP address)
There's only one notable limitation of WiFi Manager. It doesn't support enterprise Wi-Fi security (EAP/802.1X). However, unless you're connecting to a corporate network, this shouldn't be a problem.
Wi-Fi hotspot or tethering functionality is now included in Android. It can generate a Wi-Fi signal for you to share the cellular Internet connection with a laptop or other Wi-Fi devices. But you might not find this feature if you're using an older Android OS version or your wireless carrier disables it. However, if you Root your phone you can use an app like this one to get similar Wi-Fi hotspot or tethering functionality. Plus this app also enables Bluetooth-tethering.
In addition to Rooting, this app also requires you to use a kernel that supports netfilter (iptables). So it won't work on all Android devices.
For most devices, this app will create an ad-hoc (peer-to-peer) wireless network with support of 128-bit WEP encryption. Some devices support creating an Infrastructure wireless network (which is more like a true AP) with support of WPA/WPA2 encryption and lets you control the Wi-Fi transmit power.
All devices allow you to set the SSID (network name), channel and more. It supports access-control to allow/deny specific wireless clients
This installs a widget that you can add to your home screen. It lets you toggle the Wi-Fi interface of Android on and off with one single click. Thus, you don't have to navigate to the wireless settings each time. This is great if you regularly turn it on and off, such as to save battery power.
This scans the Wi-Fi network you're connected to and lists the shares on the network: Windows (SMB) computers and shares, FTP servers, and HTTP servers. For each it lists the IP address, MAC address, SMB name, and vendor name.
In addition to listing the shares, it supports basic connection and file transferring between them and your phone. You can connect to SMB shares as a guest or input a username and password. Then you can then browse, download, upload, create and delete files and folders. For HTTP resources it launches the web browser. For FTP resources it can open a third-party FTP client, like AndFTP.
This app doesn't use Wi-Fi, but is a database of default login info and credentials for more than a thousand routers, gateways, modems and other network devices. Enter the model number or brand, and it will list the login username, password, and protocol.
Eric Geier is the founder of NoWiresSecurity, which helps businesses easily protect their Wi-Fi networks with the Enterprise mode of WPA/WPA2 security by offering a hosted RADIUS/802.1X service. He is also a freelance tech writer--become a Twitter follower or use the RSS Feed to keep up with his writings.