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'Rotten WiFi' network-rating app deserves rotten tomatoes

James A. Martin | Oct. 16, 2014
Most movie fans know Rotten Tomatoes, the film-review aggregator that assigns a score to movies based on an average of critics' ratings. In that site's spirit, Rotten WiFi, a free Android and iOS app, scores Wi-Fi networks based on user speed tests and ratings.

Most movie fans know Rotten Tomatoes, the film-review aggregator that assigns a score to movies based on an average of critics' ratings. In that site's spirit, Rotten WiFi, a free Android and iOS app, scores Wi-Fi networks based on user speed tests and ratings.

Say you're on the road and have some time to kill before meeting a client. You need to find a café or other public place with decent Wi-Fi, so you can catch up on work. When you fire up Rotten WiFi, you can scroll through a list of nearby hotspots. Each network has an overall quality rating on a scale of 1 to 10. The app also shows you data for cellular connections, though apparently it's limited to 3G networks.

While on public Wi-Fi networks, you can use Rotten WiFi to conduct speed tests. You can share the results with other Rotten WiFi users and add comments. If you're traveling, you can enter a destination before you leave to find the best local Wi-Fi hotspots.

Based on my experience, Rotten WiFi deserves a few rotten tomatoes of its own.

I'm a Starbucks junky, and I found none of Starbucks' Wi-Fi networks listed among the available Wi-Fi networks I perused in San Francisco. Even while I was in the city's financial district, standing in a Starbucks with WiFi, Rotten WiFi didn't see the network.

The app's GPS-enabled map located me several blocks away from my actual location. Rotten WiFi's speed tests also seem a bit off, at least compared to those I conducted using the Ookla Speedtest app.

I'd also appreciate more information about the specific Wi-Fi hot spots, such as which ones are open and/or free to use.

From what I can tell, Rotten WiFi is the only app that assigns ratings in this way to Wi-Fi networks. Other free apps, such as WiFi Finder for Android and JiWire's Wi-Fi Finder for iOS, help you find hotspots. Wifi Analyzer for Android provides more technical information to help you find lesser-used channels for your wireless router, among other things.

Rotten WiFi's apps are OK for getting an idea of what your experience might be like on a nearby network. Its website also offers more functionality, including the ability to search for free Wi-Fi networks. Just be aware that the data the app provides is by no means exhaustive.

 

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