Android's upcoming L release, currently available in developer preview form, has a lot of improvements to its networking and Wi-Fi capability. One of the smaller additions that will nonetheless make a few people very, very happy is the user-facing reporting of Wi-Fi frequencies. Translation: you can finally see whether the Wi-Fi network you're connected to is using the 2.4GHz band or the 5GHz band.

thumbnail thumbnail (1) large (1)

Left, center: separate network frequencies in Android L (note the SSID). Right: Android 4.4.

That's more important than it sounds: the 5GHz band available on newer and more high-end wireless routers allows for data transmission at up to one gigabit per second on 802.11ac. Perhaps even more importantly, it gets Wi-Fi off the crowded 2.4GHz spectrum, which is also shared by a ton of other wireless standards including landline phone hardware and Bluetooth. Some media-intensive applications, like the NVIDIA SHIELD's GameStream feature, requires a 5GHz connection to the router.

The problem is that most dual-band routers will output both a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi signal and a 5GHz Wi-Fi signal, in order to support both faster speeds and legacy hardware. Some of them even give them the same SSID by default. If your Android phone or tablet supports 5GHz Wi-Fi, there's no way to tell which signal is which without manually assigning separate names in your router's settings. That will change with Android L, which includes a "Frequency" field in the Wi-Fi settings screen.

Of course, this is still a little more awkward than it needs to be - it looks like you need to be actively connected to the network to see the frequency. An icon or contextual text in the main Wi-Fi settings screen would be more ideal. Google, you've still got a few months to add in some more functionality, how 'bout it?

Thanks, Linus Metzler!

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • Jon Leach

    If we could get real time up/down speeds in the stat bar that would great.

    • Roh_Mish

      They removed the up/down arrow in status bar. They won't go the other direction now.

    • hp420


    • abqnm

      I would really like to be able to see advanced details on the LTE connection. A way to see the band, MIMO mode, carrier bandwidth (5, 10, 15, 20MHz), etc. Similar to the field test screen on the iProbablyShouldntMentionTheName.

  • PhineasJW

    Slightly off-topic: what is the design team doing with the buttons?

    Are they packed together because they're easier to touch one-handed??

    The whitespace is so imbalanced it's hard to fathom what they're gaining...

    • imaguest

      Yes, I assume that's the reason, but you are right... looks weird. At least it is just a preview. Hope they fix that.

    • Phil Oakley

      From a UX standpoint, the 'action' should always be on the right, with 'go back' (cancel in this case) on the left (at least it's this way in languages that read left-to-right; not sure about right-to-left languages). So they need to change the positioning of the two, at least, if not spacing the buttons out as well.

      • Imparus

        Even if it is a "destructive action"?

        • Phil Oakley


          It's because the 'action' is a thing that takes you onwards, takes you somewhere. Cancel/back takes you back where you came from.

          Think of it like this: if this were animated, pressing 'Forget' at the moment would go left, but the natural way is to go right (because you're moving on). Same for cancel; it'd go right but should go left, as you're going 'back'.

          That's why I've never liked Samsung's button layout; it's the wrong way round.

    • nawa

      This is the same card as in the Play Store, when you accept permissions. To me, it looks much nicer.

    • Dindi

      I hope they will change this in the final release. Left-handed people will have a hard time

      • Jeremy Gill

        I'm not even left-handed and I usually use my phone in my left hand. Annoying.

        • someone755

          Shouldn't the option to "Force RTL" under Dev options move the buttons?
          Isn't nice and needs getting used to, but gets rid of one annoyance for you.

          • hp420

            Until you try reading something printed backwards

          • someone755

            The only thing that happens to text is that it's shifted from being left-docked to right-docked.
            I've tried using RTL and it really bring some new experience; it's like a whole new OS (a bad part is that most apps don't support that which results in only the text changing dock sides).

      • hp420

        Maybe there's a plan to implement left-handed mode?

      • miri

        If they have a 7" phone, maybe.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Oh my god, I just noticed. They switched Negative and Positive buttons around before in Jelly Bean I think, and now they switched them back again?? I can't wait to hear what the justification is this time.

      • fifarunnerr

        In the screenshot attached below(first one I found via Google search), the positive button is still on the right.
        I guess they just decided that 'Forget' isn't a positive button like 'Next', 'OK' or 'Finish'.
        The user expects to close the dialog when pressing a positive button, and forgetting the network instead doesn't make sense at all.

        Granted, 'Cancel' as positive button doesn't make that much sense either, but if they changed cancel to 'OK' or 'Dismiss', it would make a lot of sense to me :)

      • black

        Positive should come first. I never liked it the other way around.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          That's what I'm used to, from using Windows anyway.

          • Crispin Swickard

            I think they are more aiming for a positive action being the easier to reach option) for right handers at least sorta thing. For more one hand ease of use. It would make sense sort of to have the option that would most likely be what users want to select be easier to reach. Just a theory of course. But that would explain why they would be both offset to the right side.

    • black

      They are doing things based on material design. Material design says you have a paper in front of you with a bunch of words. You tap on the word and the paper magically changes text or moves shit around.

      I think it's genius. Best thing I've seen since sliced egg.

  • Carlos Rodríguez

    That's great, but in the case of my Nexus 4, it's a pain in the arse to connect to 5GHz, I even named them differently.

    The problem is that I have to turn off wifi, then uncheck "Scanning always available" to see the 5GHz SSID. Otherwise it only sees the 2.4GHz one.

    It's very frustrating. The same happened when I had the Galaxy Nexus.

    I hope, if we ever see Android L (don't wanna start an argument about it, the N4 is "almost" a Nexus 7 2013 hardware wise), to improve this situation.


    • Roh_Mish

      Never a problem to me. Always connects to the 5Ghz one.

  • Guest

    still using Holoyolo Blue?! /sigh

    • qfr

      Look at the screenshot a second time

    • Phil Oakley

      I don't see any blue on the L screens...

    • Matthew Bohr

      The third one is the old version.

  • Leeroy Jenkins

    Die Holoyolo Blue, die !

    • Kidney_Thief

      Maybe read the caption a little closer.

    • Finger

      How cute

    • Crispin Swickard

      RIP holoyolo dark, RIP...

  • http://pandu.poluan.info pepoluan

    On older Android versions, I use the free WiFi Manager app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.kman.WifiManager&hl=en

    It lists all recognized WiFi SSIDs in a nice table, complete with channel number. Any network with a number higher than "14" is certainly not 2.4 GHz. See the full list on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_WLAN_channels

  • chrone

    Does L Preview automatically switch to higher signal AP on the saved AP list?

  • jamaall

    The battery area has seen much improvement too. It now tells you time left on battery, and how much percent each task actually uses out of the amount depleted. (Ex: System UI used 5% of total battery)

  • Pedro O Raposo

    Am I the only one that looked at the last image and yelled "system update, quick, system update!!!" (I'm a junkie for updates)

  • sivkai

    I apologise for the silly question but I'll be getting the dual band ASUS RT-AC66U tomorrow and I wanted to know, will my dual band compatible devices (i.e. Nexus 5) automatically choose the frequency that will provide the highest speed or will it just go straight to 5GHz?

    • androidcrook

      Sorry I meant 5ghz

    • Cory S

      It will go to the strongest signal..which is usually 2.4. I have my phone setup to only connect to the 5GHZ radio.

  • MarkG54321

    I know to avoid the 5GHZ ones, as it totally messes up bluetooth audio on my Nexus7 2013.. Lots of people reporting this problem. Nexus5 is OK strangely

  • remister

    So the data animation of you using the network is still out....

    • Matthew Fry

      I used Xposed to remove the animation on my stock Note 3. Turn on 'flash when screen updates' in developer options and sit on a static screen. Be careful if you're prone to seizures cause that's seizure fuel. Anyway, I agree that it's worth getting rid of. The status bar shouldn't be animating.

  • hp420

    This is great, but I'd rather the ability to hide my SSID when creating an access point on my android.

  • mgamerz

    If the SSID names are the same then in the current implementation it will default to 2.4 as it typically has a stronger signal.

  • Christopher Bement

    I can't ever seem to get my 5ghz faster than my 2.4...wtf.

  • duke69111

    A lot of the feature that are coming in version L seem like things that should've already been included.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    Great feature, but I think most people, myself included, simply added the frequency to the AP name for easy identification.

    I've had my Netgear R7000 router for 8 months now, and I've found that I only use the 5GHz wireless AC (with my Note3) when I'm in close proximity. As soon as I wander down a floor, to the middle of the house, I need to switch to 2.4GHz to get better range. Physics.

    • Matthew Fry

      Do you get the "Your Internet connection is unstable" messages on ac 5GHz? I've tried 3 different routers 2.4GHz, 5GHz, G, and N. I continually lose connectivity (on my Note 3).

      • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

        Yeah - I did get that bogus "unstable internet connection" popup on when I had Touchwhiz on my phone (in 2013), but never again on CyanogenMod. However, it was my understanding that that annoyance in Touchwhiz had since been fixed in updates (as well as router firmware updates).

        • Matthew Fry

          I wish. It happens to both my wife's S3 and my Note 3. I've been considering a custom ROM for some time and that just solidified my resolve.

  • Deepak

    Hi, can I enter username and password when connecting through a proxy server?

    • Droidweb

      Not sure on 'L', but there are applications that add this functionality. Check out Drony and Sandproxy (the developer has a pretty extensive thread on XDA as well)

  • Zimmerman