Connecting to a public Wi-Fi network is handy, but sometimes the data speeds aren’t all that great. Usually, there are a bunch of people on the network at the same time knocking the overall quality. Google, however, would like to take out the guesswork and let you know if a particular open network is worth your time. So you won’t have to constantly switch between LTE and Wi-Fi if a local connection turns out to be congested at the mall, in a restaurant, or while jumping between bars.
There’s a new feature with Android 8.1, which started rolling out last month, that allows users to see how good an open network’s connection is prior to joining.
Public Wi-Fi can be spotty. For the first time, #AndroidOreo 8.1 lets you take out the guesswork & see the speed of networks before you hit connect. Rolling out now: https://t.co/lSzvCFgNk7 pic.twitter.com/60EmoPxUX4
— Android (@Android) January 22, 2018
When you’re out and about, head to your phone’s settings. Head to the same settings you normally do to establish a connection to a Wi-Fi network. If there are any open/public networks nearby, your phone will show the signal strength as well as the speed for each.
Here’s how Google describes the speed labels:
- Very Fast: You can stream very high-quality videos
- Fast: You can stream most videos
- OK: You can read webpages, use social media, and stream music
- Slow: If you can use Wi-Fi calling, you can make phone calls and send texts
Just remember that Android 8.0 Oreo is barely on any devices, so chances are that you’ll need a Pixel or recent Nexus phone to take advantage of this feature. Otherwise you’re going to have to wait until someone like Samsung or LG launches a new flagship and hope they include the latest version of Android. Aside from Google’s own hardware, virtually nothing has Android 8.1 while Oreo’s first release continues to struggle.