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Testing cell networks across America: Apps and tools

Gabe Scelta | May 22, 2013
As part of TechHive and OpenSignal's massive annual test on mobile cell networks, I set out on a cross-country journey to investigate signal strength. I visited 20 cities in five weeks, and learned a lot about how to pack light for a tech-centric trip.

Apple Maps: I used the default Apple Maps app most of the time, maybe because I like some spice in my life. It was totally acceptable for general directions and I liked hands-off Siri telling me what to do as I drove. However, the app's actual understanding about speed, traffic, and human spacial architecture is seriously lacking. It's also not so good with finding imperfect addresses. For example, a search for "Avis Rental Car NY NY" returns zero results. It also prioritizes an address' zip+4 codes for location over the street address, which seems like a really odd choice and leads to a Bermuda triangle-like "approximate location" with no basis in reality. It also does not seem to understand different types of roads. After a rest stop somewhere between Dallas and Houston, it decided that the best way for me to get back to the highway was to go twelve miles down a dirt road through a cemetery in the middle of the night. I got to the highway eventually, but I cursed Siri the whole way. I still don't think she's forgiven me.

You can follow my travels on Facebook (OpenSignal Gabe) or FourSquare (OpenSignal), where I'll be checking in periodically.

 

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