How to Make Android WiFi Better

wifi

A WiFi App to Make Android Better

I use wifi a lot on my android phone. I use it in my office, my home, my beach house, cafes I frequent, and offices of companies I frequent. I save the profiles for all of these locations and replace my carrier’s data service with wifi when I am in these locations.

But I don’t like to leave wifi on all the time on my phone. It eats the battery and it auto connects to weak wifi access points with generic names like linksys, netgear, etc. The latter situation can be particularly frustrating when I’m streaming audio or doing something important. It causes a lost connection and a broken session.

I’ve looked in the android marketplace for an app that solves this problem and can’t find it. Here’s what I am looking for:

I’d like to keep wifi off by default on my mobile phone. I’d like an app that wakes up the wifi every so often (user configurable but defaults to every 30 mins). The app then looks for a wifi access point that I have in my “whitelist” which would be the locations where I normally switch on wifi. The whitelist would be different from my saved profiles because I have saved profiles for names like linksys, netgear, etc. If the app finds one of these wifi access points with a good signal, it connects and leaves wifi on. If it doesn’t find a whitelisted wifi access point, it shuts down wifi.

The app would also check every so often to see that the phone is still connected to a whitelisted access point. If it is no longer connected, it would shut the wifi off on the phone.

As I said, I’ve looked in the android marketplace for an app that does this. I couldn’t find one. If one exists, I’d love to know the name of it so I can get it. If not, I’d love for someone to build this. There are quite a few apps that help manage wifi (quick switching on and off, etc). Maybe one of those apps can add this feature.

The wireless carrier’s data networks are congested and getting more so with the explosion of smartphones and bandwidth heavy applications. If phone users can efficiently and reliably switch on wifi when they have it, it will offload data traffic from the carrier’s networks and help reduce congestion. Mobile phone operating systems don’t do a great job of assisting with this stuff today. Over time I expect they’ll get better at it. But until then, I hope third party app developers can come in and fill the void.

UPDATE: I’ve downloaded three apps that were suggested in the comments; Tasker, Y5, and Locale. I’ve set up two of them, Y5 and Locale, and both seem to solve this problem. I think Locale does it in a more sophisticated way. But I am running both of them right now. I will let everyone know what works best for me in a future post.

Photo by The Man in Blue

Fred Wilson’s full blog can be found here. Bio: I am a VC. I have been for 19 years. I help people start and build technology companies. I do it in NYC, which isn’t the easiest place to build technolo ...read more

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