Connecting to Wireless Networks with Android

April 6, 2011, By Christian Cawley

There are many things that you can do with an Android phone or tablet. You might want to play games or make phonecalls, or just take advantage of some of the inbuilt software. However it’s pretty tricky to do anything with an Android without an Internet connection.

While an Android phone will probably have access to any mobile Internet services provided by your carrier, an Android tablet might not necessarily have this benefit, depending on its configuration.

Luckily, however, both types of device are equipped with wireless networking, the ability to detect and connect to wireless routers in places as diverse as cafes, airports and even your own home!

Connecting to Wireless Networks with Android

Basic Guide to Connecting Android to a Wireless Network

In order to get your Android device connected to a wireless network, begin by going to the Settings screen and opening the Wireless & network settings menu. Here you will be able to activate Wi-Fi by tapping the checkbox, before opening the Wi-Fi settings screen.

With Network notification enabled your Android will inform you when an open network is available, and by selecting any detected networks in the lower half of the screen you will be able to connect to them.

If the networks are closed then you will need to enter your network key into the Password field; you might have difficulty entering this as the characters are obscured, so use the Show password checkbox to display them while you enter it. Typically these types of password are made from random characters, so making the password visible while entering it is a good idea.

Once the password is entered you should be able to access the local wireless network and access the Internet!

Wireless Tools for Android

While connecting to a wireless network is pretty straightforward, it isn’t particularly easy to do if you have many access points (AP) that you use.

Generally speaking if an Android device has its wireless networking enabled then it should automatically connect to any AP that it has previously connected to successfully. This can lead to problems if you’re on the road regularly and have your own home and work wireless LANs to connect to – you can easily lose track of which connection is best for a particular location (a common problem in city centers), too.

One very useful way around this problem is the free Wi-Fi Connect app which displays any available wireless connections, their relative strength and provides an easy means of connecting to them with a useful pinboard style GUI.

This free app only requires you to tap the displayed APs to find the signal strength, and tapping will also reveal the Connect button, which then opens the password entry field. Easier to use than the built-in Android wireless connectivity tools, note that this app does require wireless networking to be enabled before use.

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