Ever hop on a WiFi hotspot to save mobile data or boost speed, only to find out that it’s so slow that you might as well have stayed on cellular access? If you’re using Android 8.1 Oreo, that shouldn’t be a problem going forward. After several weeks of teasing, Google is rolling out a feature that gauges the speed of WiFi networks before you connect. It’s not giving you exact bandwidth readings — instead, it’s lumping the overall performance into categories that give you an idea of what to expect. You may want to avoid a “slow” (under 1Mbps) or “OK” (1-5Mbps) network unless you have no choice, but “fast” (5-20Mbps) and “very fast” (20Mbps and above) should do the job if you’re catching up on YouTube.
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
The ratings are a bit conservative, and might not help much if you’re hoping to stream 4K or download a multi-gigabyte app. However, it should help you make more informed decisions. You might skip that overloaded airport connection instead of wasting minutes trying to visit a basic page. Now if only this prompted hotspot owners to improve the quality of their connections…