Crowdsourced network coverage mapping service OpenSignal has launched a new standalone app that not only reveals your mobile and Wi-Fi internet speeds, but provides context on what the numbers actually mean.
Launched this week in beta for Android users, Meteor enters a pretty crowded space — it’s fair to say that there is no shortage of speed-testing apps. But what OpenSignal is striving for here is a colorful, user-friendly experience that moves beyond simply showing you numbers to tell you what those little “Mbps” metrics can get you in terms of services.
When you first launch the app, a friendly little monster — the Clippy of speed testing, for want of a better analogy — greets you and guides you through the various functions of the app. The monster is ever present thereafter, peering in from the periphery. But you’ll be pleased to know this can be switched off easily.
There are three main tabs — “Speed Test,” which is where you activate a new speed test; “History,” which lists all your previous speed tests across mobile and Wi-Fi; and “Dashboard,” which essentially maps out all your previous tests, highlighting your best and worst results. For me, the two most useful tabs are “Speed Test” and “History.”
Once you carry out a speed test, Meteor will tell you whether the numbers are “Awesome,” “Very Good,” or “Poor,” then it shows you a list of apps and how they’ll perform under current conditions.
Only six apps show at a given time (though you have to scroll horizontally to see more than three), but you can manually select from 16, including WhatsApp, YouTube, Spotify, Dropbox, Amazon, Facebook, Gmail, Google Maps, Skype, Twitter, and Uber.
You can then click on a specific app, and it will provide a breakdown of how well it will work based on your current connectivity. In the first image below, the app is on a fairly fast Wi-Fi network, so YouTube is shown to perform awesomely on all streaming settings.
But if I switch to a patchy 4G connection and check Spotify, it outlines what will and won’t work well. It shows that downloading an album won’t work well (P = Poor), but if I want to listen to a song on normal streaming settings, it should be fine (V = Very Good).
Founded in 2010, OpenSignal has built a solid reputation for its flagship Android and iPhone app, which passively monitors the speed, coverage, and reliability of mobile networks on users’ phones. With millions of downloads globally, the data it gathers offers a fairly unique and unbiased view of mobile networks’ performance.
The main app actually has a speed-test tool built into it already, but with Meteor the company ushers in a host of new features that would be difficult to include in OpenSignal itself.
Meteor isn’t the company’s first standalone app. A couple of years back, OpenSignal launched Wifimapper to help you find the world’s free Wi-Fi hotspots, verified by the platform’s global community of users. And it already offered WeatherSignal, which uses a phone’s built-in sensors to create a crowdsourced network of weather forecasts using passively gathered data, while CrisisSignal is like a real-time version of OpenSignal designed for disasters and emergency situations.
OpenSignal isn’t the first established technology company to branch out into speed-testing services. Last summer, Netflix launched Fast.com to show how fast — or slow — your internet connection really is.