Measuring Wi-Fi signal strength from iOS

Q: Is there an app I can get for my iPhone that will actually let me walk around and measure the strength of my Wi-Fi network in various parts of my house? I’m trying to figure out the best place to put my Wi-Fi router and the normal Wi-Fi indicator on the iPhone seems kind of random to me.

– Ken

A: Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t allow third-party developers direct access to the hardware in iOS devices, which makes it difficult to develop an app that can monitor things like actual Wi-Fi signal strength.

That said, however, there are a few apps out there that can work around this by monitoring secondary factors, such as network throughput. Apps like Speedtest.net can measure network performance on-demand over both a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, and there are several others that perform similar functions.

Following along these lines, Network Multimeter uses a similar design but displays the information in real-time as you’re walking around your house. Again, this app won’t measure actual Wi-Fi signal strength, but it does measure data throughput, based on an actual file transfer or a network “ping” response out to the Internet, and uses this information to provide near instantaneous feedback on the conditions where you’re currently standing. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s likely the best approach you’re going to find as a result of Apple’s iOS limitations.

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