One of the most useful features in Android powered devices is their ability to connect to Wi-Fi networks. To get the most benefit from using your Internet-enabled smartphone, it's often best to use wireless networks when they are available. If you are on the move a lot of the time, your Internet access will be coming through the mobile network, which is typically slower than Wi-Fi. Such Internet access also uses up your data allowance, whereas Wi-Fi access in most cases costs nothing. Connecting to a Wi-Fi network on an Android device is a straightforward process.
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Open your device menu. Select "Settings" then the "Wireless & networks" option. Android devices allow you to turn Wi-Fi on and off completely as well as managing the options for individual networks. If it is not already checked, check the "Wi-Fi" check-box. Once you switch this on your phone automatically starts looking for available networks, giving you a brief text summary of the status under this menu option.
Select the "Wi-Fi settings" option in your menu. The items appearing here may be changing as the phone scans for networks in your area, so you may see the options moving and altering slightly for a moment. The "Wi-Fi" check-box at the top performs the same function as the one on the previous screen, so it can be used to turn Wi-Fi on and off. In the lower part of the screen, you will see a list of networks, if any are available, under the heading "Wi-Fi networks."
Locate the network you wish to connect to within the list. If it is not listed, this means that your phone has not been able to detect it, perhaps because it is hidden. However, you can add a new network by scrolling to the bottom of the screen and choosing "Add Wi-Fi network." Enter your network details, including password, type of security and SSID, which is normally the network name. Once your network has been added, it too should appear in the list.
Select your chosen network from the list by tapping it. If the network in question is open, your phone will connect to it straight away. If it is secured, you will be prompted to enter the password key. Once your connection is made, you will see the Wi-Fi icon appear in the notification bar at the top of your screen. If you have more than one network to choose from, the icons next to each name indicate the strength of the network signals and whether they are secured.
Test your connection by browsing to a Web page. Go back to your device menu and select the browser, normally indicated as "Internet." Most Android devices automatically open the Google home page if no other page is set, so your browser should immediately attempt to display a page. When you connect to a public Wi-Fi network you may sometimes find that you have to enter further login details to access Web pages, in which case you need to acquire these details from whomever owns or runs the network.
Tips and warnings
- The Android Market has lots of free widgets, which allow you to control Wi-Fi using shortcuts, making the process much faster.
- Wi-Fi can use up a lot of battery power, so you may see your battery level reduce significantly after a Wi0Fi session. Switching Wi-Fi on and off, using it only when you need it is a good way to minimise on the impact.
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