by James A. Martin

‘Rotten WiFi’ Network-Rating App Deserves Rotten Tomatoes

Oct 15, 20142 mins
AndroidConsumer ElectronicsiOS

The Rotten WiFi Android and iOS apps rank Wi-Fi networks based on speed tests and let users add comments. Unfortunately, the apps fall short in several ways, according to reviewer James A. Martin.

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.

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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.