The MiFi, a mobile broadband router made by Novatel Wireless sold by a number of carriers around the world, is a popular device for getting internet connectivity on the go. If you’re not already familiar with the MiFi, it’s a small cellular modem that’s about the size of a a half of deck of playing cards and it connects to the cellular data network of your mobile carrier of choice and shares this connection via Wi-Fi with up to 5 other devices.
In the U.S., the MiFi is available through Verizon, Sprint, and Virgin Mobile and through Bell and Rogers in Canada. There’s also an unlocked GSM version of the MiFi that can be used with just about any GSM carrier in the world.
The MiFi is a fantastic device but it lacks a screen or other indicators to tell you detailed information about remaining battery life, the number of devices connected, and other useful pieces of information. While this information can be found through its web interface where you can also manage your MiFi’s settings through your browser, an app can offer more immediate access. Enter a few enterprising developers who have created apps to allow you to keep closer tabs on your MiFi’s status – we took a closer look at AppsDen’s Mi-Fi and Derek Kepner’s MyMiFi paired with our unlocked MiFi 2372 on AT&T’s 3G network.
In order to use both apps, all you need to do is connect your iPhone or iPod touch to the Wi-Fi network created by your MiFi. From here, both apps will access and display battery level, connection strength, data transfer, device connection, and IP information directly from your MiFi. Without any set-up required at all – apart from anything you’ve already done to set up your MiFi with your carrier and adjust its security settings to your liking – both apps are dead simple to use and should work with most MiFi models and the various carrier implementations out there.
AppsDen’s Mi-Fi provides graphical information about your MiFi’s signal strength and battery level at the top of the screen. Immediate below these are tallies of the data received and sent, the connection time and the IP addresses. It hides the iPhone’s status bar when it’s open s you can’t see the current time and other information.
AppDen’s Mi-Fi on the left, Kepner’s MyMiFi on the right
Kepner’s MyMiFi shows virtually the same information, although it’s displayed differently and a few more important pieces of information are included: the number of devices connected, and the current network and connection type. Unlike Mi-Fi, it does not hide the iPhone’s status bar.
We really appreciate the functionality of both of these apps – it’s wicked easy to simply open up either one to quickly check the status of our MiFi while we’re on the go. Now, AppsDen’s Mi-Fi app is free (without ads, to boot) and is therefore a no-brainer to download if you’ve got a MiFi and an iPhone or iPod touch. Kepner’s MyMiFi app costs $2.99 and it offers more information compared to AppsDen’s Mi-Fi app and we also find its icon and interface to be more visually pleasing, which does matter to us a fair amount when it comes to comparing apps that provide similar functionality. Both apps are iOS 4 compatible and have Retina Display graphics on the iPhone 4.
Though it might feel a little expensive since there’s a free app available that does just about the same thing, $3 is not a lot of money in the end and we’re happy to have such a thoughtfully-designed app like MyWiFi on our iPhones and recommend it. Those of you who are more budget-minded have a perfectly capable alternative in AppDen’s free Mi-Fi app.