There is a lot to say about AT&T. Even its history is kind of fun: from being a subsidiary of the Bell Telephone Company, founded by Alexander Graham Bell itself in 1877, it became into nowadays own the giant WarnerMedia with its famous brands like HBO and Warner Bros.
With those big names behind, AT&T is still, in the third decade of the 21st century, delivering some dodgy software. They try to give the big name of the company to exciting and revolutionary software. Still, the results are not always what you expect after a century of experience in the communications industry.
This time we are going to analyze in-depth the AT&T Smart WiFi App, a software that created some reactions among users for what is supposed to provide and what it really does: easy free WiFi connection.
We are going to check how this app works, all the pros and the cons you can expect using it, and if it really allows you to have that precious free connection you are expecting from it.
AT&T’s Smart WiFi: How it works
The name of this app gives a big clue about how it should work. AT&T Smart WiFi App it’s a free manager for incoming WiFi connections to your phone. Its description says that it automatically search for an available hotspot and connects to it, saving you some time and money when for some reason a fast and free WiFi connection can come handy. If you have limited data usage, the app promise to use WiFi network anytime is possible, making the data usage of your phone, supposedly, more efficient.
The second most important feature is that the app creates a complete review with information about missed time trying to connect to a network, and about WiFi networks that actually provided you with data usage.
You should take into account that Google Play is the only place when you can find this app, which means that it’s not available for iOS. There is no information available if they are going to develop an iPhone version of it.
As said, AT&T Smart WiFi it’s designed to work also if you have a data plan on your mobile phone. It should use a free WiFi spot every time is possible. Unfortunately, it’s not able to deactivate automatically your data connection, which has some downsides that we are going to explain through the article.
Your WiFi toggle has to be turned on all the time to make these little miracles possible. If you don’t, the app will keep trying to search for a signal, with some expectable consequences related to data and battery usage.
AT&T Smart WiFi App features
Now that we know what this app should do for you, it’s time to check with more details all the features that come with it. We are going to find out the distance between what the app says that it does, what it really can do and how this works exactly in practice, to have a complete overview of the use you can give to it.
As we said, this app is designed to search for WiFi connections when they are available, and automatically connect your device, with the idea of making your life easier and save you some data consumption.
But when we check with more details this feature, we quickly understand that this app was released almost a decade ago. In those years, public WiFi was fully open and easy to connect. Nowadays, there is always at least one layer of touches between you and the app, precisely to avoid some critical security issues.
The consequence is that not all public WiFi allows AT&T Smart WiFi App to connect automatically, which is discouraging considering that this is the main feature of the app.
The original idea of generating a report related to where and what time you had access to a WiFi network, was to help you to picture a map with the locations where you usually can make the best use of this app.
With the original concept, this works quite well, but the problem described related to new standards of security in public WiFi networks drag this feature too. The difference of having or not this app installed in your phone becomes smaller if a bunch of public WiFi networks block it, making this report not as useful as it was years ago.
A curious piece of information you can notice if you read the full description of the app in Google play is related to a concept that they call “accessibility services”. AT&T Smart WiFi app use them, so first and foremost, it’s good to know what they mean.
Accessibility services are some unique features designed to ease the use of a mobile phone to people with some different physical abilities. In fact, you find some of these in the Android OS, such as hearing aid pairing, Brailleback and talkback screen reader. Sadly, these features are used by unscrupulous developers of malware that use these services to cheat users and even steal their personal information and lock users out of their devices.
AT&T and several developers that use accessibility service, make these features a severe threat for users, a reason why Android all versions released after Nougat (7.0) immune to this attacks.
AT&T Smart WiFi efficiency
If you make some research on internet reviews, you will find quite a lot of comments related to the efficiency of the app. In life, we make decisions considering how much energy and resources we have to spend for a result. Of course, that outcome should be good enough to make our sacrifices worth. It’s useful to have into account what is a big sacrifice for you is not for some other user, and what is an excellent feature for others maybe is not for you.
Anyways, we have to say that is not that hard to find some unfavourable feedback related, for example, with data consumption. It looks like some users detected that the app was taking data to work, which it’s counterproductive considering what you search with this app.
Other reviews we found mention crashes and unproductive behaviour. For example, attempting to connect to a random network when you have your own home WiFi available, and other similar stuff that creates some chaos that is not precisely giving you the comfortable feeling you should have with the automated features that the app says that can provide.
If we play devil’s advocate, it’s true that some bad reviews not only here but with other software applications, are related to careless behaviour from users. Nevertheless, those reviews came from someplace, and there’s no smoke without fire.
There is a concept that is called “bloatware” used for heavy software that doesn’t give advantages proportional to the resources taken from your device. It looks like some part of the community of Android users think that AT&T Smart WiFi app matches that concept.
AT&T Smart WiFi App: more problems and issues
The idea of an app that can manage your WiFi settings, it’s only helpful if we are sure that this is happening for a reason. The last reports from different sources, aim that maybe the major advantage that is still relevant using AT&T Smart WiFi App is related to AT&T hotspots.
Of course, the company managed to keep the software ready to go with their own networks, but if you are not close to them, this positive outcome fades and become meaningless.
Sadly, doing more research, for example, about how much data you can save using the app, the results are quite discouraging. Several reports report an increase in data usage.
It is possible that if you enable the Mobile Data Acess feature, you can expect some problems in other apps to access your internet connection. The reason is that the default configuration of AT&T Smart WiFi App it’s just not prepared to work correctly with some of the most popular apps in the market.
Finally, you can expect an impact on the battery to perform with this app. Each one of the software you choose to use and activate in your mobile phone will affect how long your battery last without needing a full charge. In this case, it looks like the piece of battery taken by the app is big enough to generate complaints and bad experiences.
It’s quite obvious at this point that we are not going to recommend this app. There are more than enough problems on the horizon to dodge a bad experience with it. You will save yourself from a big headache and complications from something that should be a solution.
The lesson we get with an app like this one is you should accept that some part of the experience using the internet with your mobile device is on you. What it looks like a tool it can quickly become a problem, only to save you a couple of touches on your screen.
When we talk about safety and efficiency, 30 seconds of your time can give you critical control of your connections, and save you from some unpleasant experience with software that is just not good enough to have it.