Android 8.1 Now Tells You How Fast Nearby Wi-Fi Networks Are

Android 8.1 Now Tells You How Fast Nearby Wi-Fi Networks Are

An open Wi-Fi hotspot can be great when your mobile data connection isn’t cutting it, but not all public Wi-Fi is created equal. A new feature in Android 8.1 will tell you about a network before you go through the hassle of connecting to it. You won’t get exact speed measurements, but a general descriptor tells you if the network is lightning fast or slow as molasses.

Odds are you don’t have this feature on your phone yet. It’s still in the process of rolling out, and it’s only for Android 8.1 devices. That means just Pixels, Nexuses, and a few Android One phones. The few other phones that have been upgraded to Oreo are still on 8.0. So, consider this a glimpse of your future. This feature started showing up on some devices several weeks ago, but Google didn’t release it to all Android 8.1 devices right away. Now you can expect to see it on all Android 8.1 devices in a few days.

The new speed labels appear in your Wi-Fi network list, which is where you’d go when you want to connect to a new network. Next to each network for which Google has data, you get a description: Slow, OK, Fast, or Very Fast. These vague generalities area actually connected to real speed ranges, though. According to Google, slow is 0-1 Mbps, OK is 1-5 Mbps, fast is 5-20 Mbps, and very fast is anything over 20 Mbps. This is similar to Google’s built-in secure Wi-Fi auto-connect feature, which identifies stable networks and connects you to them via a Google VPN.

Android 8.1 Now Tells You How Fast Nearby Wi-Fi Networks Are

These labels give you a chance to save yourself the time and frustration of connecting to a network that isn’t going to suit your needs. If all you need to do is fire off some messages, the slow networks might be okay. If you intend to stream some Netflix, you probably don’t want to bother wrestling with such a network. The labels only show up on open networks, so those that require passwords or use sign-in pages won’t display a speed rating.

If you don’t want Google to report speed rating on networks for some reason, you can shut this feature off in the Wi-Fi settings. It’s under Wi-Fi preferences > Advanced > Network rating provider. The only option is Google, so change it to “None” to remove the labels. If you don’t want to shut the labels off, no action is required on your part.

Continue reading

Chromecast, Google Home May Be Overloading Your Wi-Fi

If you've had Wi-Fi problems since hooking up a Google smart speaker or Chromecast, it may not be your router or internet that's to blame.

ET Deals: Norton Core Connected AC2600 Secure Wi-Fi Router with One-Year Security Plus for $200

If you're using the default wireless router that your ISP provides, you might be dealing with coverage issues. Certain rooms in your house might drop your connection, or the speed might be terrible. So if you're ready to upgrade to a better wireless router that doesn't compromise one iota on security, consider the Norton Core.

ET Deals Roundup: Luma Wi-Fi Mesh Router for $140, 55-Inch Samsung 4K for only $580 with $225 Gift Card, and more

If you're tired of your Wi-Fi dropping out in certain parts of your house, consider making the jump to a mesh router. Right now, you can save $60 on a three-pack of Luma Home wireless routers at the PCMag shop. You can also snag an affordable 128GB SD card, a 55-inch 4K TV, and so much more with today's best deals.

Google Begins Testing Wi-Fi Calls for Google Voice

After years of neglect, Google is again working to improve Google Voice by updating its apps and rolling out new features — and one long-awaited feature has just entered testing.