Since I've always been on slower networks in the SF Bay Area (mainly Sprint and T-Mobile), I've always been interested in checking various locations to determine upload and download speeds along with any possible improvements. On a PC, loading up such a test is trivial via the browser, but on a mobile phone, my favorite app is Sensorly.
- Sensorly is easy to run speed tests
- Sensorly has map overlays of provider coverage.
And with two core features built, Sensorly is an awesome application for determining speed. The problems arise when it comes to how they collect their data.
- Every time I load the Sensorly, I'm prompted for how I'd like to contribute (No Contribution, Passive Contribution, and Active Contribution). It always defaults to Passive Contribution, and I always intend to select none.
The difference in the various types as of the writing of this article is:
- No Contributions: You do not wish to join the community effort to collect data.
- Passive Contributions: Passive contribution allows the app to collect data related to your quality of service automatically and sporadically while preserving your device's battery life.
- Active Contributions: We collect signal strength data as well as your location when you're using the application. We do not collect any of your personal data.
The problem arises when I sometimes forget, then my suspicion is that Sensorly is running passively in the background with no indication. This leads to a faster than normal battery drain, but is difficult to pin point the source. But there has to be a better way.
I understand that Sensorly needs to pull data to fill their map overlays, but this does seem less ideal. For one, Sensorly needs a setting that allows me to share just the tests that I run, instead of either constantly polling or collection signal strength all the time even if I'm not running a test.
To be fair, I have in the past run their "Map a Trip" feature while on No Contributions. But I only mindfully do this if I'm connected to a power source (either my car or a powerbank). And for that, even with No Contributions, I hope that data is saved and shared with others along with any Speed Tests that I run while on No Contributions.
What I don't want is Sensorly polling for information when I'm not aware. The main reason is battery drain. Smartphones are already notoriously bad a preserving battery and the fact that Sensorly has been the culprit has made me delete the application. Note that if I ever need to run a speed test, I'm very likely to re-install Sensorly, because I do find it to be an awesome Android app.