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Wireless Reviews

Fluke Networks AirMapper

At a Glance
Product Fluke Networks AirMagnet AirMapper [Website]
Summary Application that uses your Android-based smart phone or tablet to map Wi-Fi networks onto a floor plan or map
Pros • Easy to set up and use
• Uses any wireless adapter
• Map overlay
Cons • Support via forums only
• PRO version only exports to a format useable only by a much more expensive AirMagnet product
• Not available via Google Play store. Must install .apk

Introduction

Updated 9/14/2012: Corrected support information in Con above

BYOD (Bring your own devices) present huge challenges to corporate IT managers. On one hand, smart phones and tablets can increase employee productivity. On the other hand, in order to achieve that productivity boost, the supporting Wi-Fi network must be robust enough to provide good performance and have coverage where employees are most likely to use it.

While there are number of Wi-Fi analyzer-type tools available for smart phones and tablets, they don't really provide the comprehensive site-survey tools required to plan and monitor the performance of a corporate network. If that sounds like a familiar problem you'd like to solve, say hello to AirMapper from Fluke Networks.

AirMapper is an Android application that utilizes the Wi-Fi capabilities of your Android device, phone or tablet, to quickly and easily map network coverage and performance. Minimum requirements are as follows:

  • Operating system: Android 2.2 (froyo) or higher
  • Memory: 512 MB
  • Screen resolution: 480 X 800 pixels or above
  • Map graphic formats: bmp, fig, jpg, png

The product will support the 5 GHz spectrum. But of course, your device has to have 5 GHz capabilities.

AirMapper is available in two versions: AirMapper Free and AirMapper PRO. To get the free version, you have to fill out a form and you will receive an email with download instructions. The PRO version costs $199, and is available from Fluke Networks AirMagnet eStore. Of course, the free version is a reduced functionality version of the PRO version. Figure 1 shows a comparison of free vs. PRO features.

AirMapper Free vs. PRO features

Figure 1: AirMapper Free vs. PRO features

AirMapper isn't available through the Google Play Store. You'll have to download an .APK that you'll have to install. I read through the AirMapper forums and noted that some people were having problems with installation. Since the program doesn't come through the Google Play Store, you must set your device to "allow installation of non-market apps".

On my Droid Razr running ICS 4.0.4, I found it under System Settings>Security>Unknown sources. On my old DroidX, running version 2.3.4, that setting is found under System>Applications >Unknown sources. You'll also need an application installer. I used Astro, one of my favorite apps, navigated to the .apk file that I downloaded and selected the Install option shown in Figure 2. AirMapper installed and ran properly on both my Droid Razr and my DroidX.

 Installing the .apk file

Figure 2: Installing the .apk file

When you launch the program, you can either select to use the free version, or you can input the Serial Number and Serial Key if you purchased the PRO version. You must have an active internet connection when you enter your information, as Fluke Networks downloads a license key to unlock the PRO features.

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