Mobility

Android will now tell you the speed of a Wi-Fi network, and what you can do on it, before you connect

The latest update to Android Oreo starts rolling out today on select devices.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Android devices will now display Wi-Fi network speed along with strength.
  • The feature is live now on devices that can install the latest Android OTA update. Android devices from other manufacturers may have to wait for update approval.

A new feature in Android 8.1 Oreo will make finding a decent public Wi-Fi connection much easier.

In addition to the standard Wi-Fi signal strength bars that appear when selecting a network on an Android device will be speed indicators. Google has broken network speed into four categories: slow, ok, fast, and very fast.

This new feature is great news for business travellers needing a reliable Wi-Fi connection to conduct work—it could even save you the time of unpacking your laptop, ordering a coffee, and getting situated only to find that the Wi-Fi is practically unusable. Just open your Android device, take a look at the signal strength and speed, and move on if it isn't good enough.

SEE: Research: Defenses, response plans, and greatest concerns about cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (Tech Pro Research)

As pointed out by our sister site ZDNet, a Google community manager explained what the four W-Fi speed categories mean in a forum post, which elaborates on descriptions given on Google's W-Fi connection help page:

  • Slow = 0 - 1 Mbps (Wi-Fi calling, texting)
  • OK = 1 Mbps - 5 Mbps (read webpages, stream music, use social media)
  • Fast = 5 Mbps - 20 Mbps (stream most videos)
  • Very Fast = 20 Mbps+ (stream high-quality videos)

Speeds are, of course, dependent on signal strength. If scanning a network indicates it is very fast, don't rely on it staying that way. Congestion, physical interference, and other factors can affect signal strength, and therefore speed as well.

How to use the new Wi-Fi speed feature in Android Oreo

The update is now live, but you'll need to be able to get the latest over-the-air update to Android 8.1 in order to use it. Those who own a Google Pixel Phone or Nexus device can download and install the update now, but owners of other devices will have to wait for approval in order to use the Wi-Fi speed feature.

If you don't want to use the Wi-Fi speed option once it's installed you can disable it. Just open the Settings app on your Android device. Then tap on Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Preferences, Advanced, Network Rating Provider, and select None.

android-oreo.jpg

Also see

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox