For those in the US shopping around for the best carrier, a Boston-based start-up, SwayMarkets, launched an app late last week that serves up data that AT&T, Verizon and Sprint usually keep obfuscated. CarrierCompare has received a lot of media attention, but users and critics have mixed reactions.
The app itself is easy to use and provides useful information for finding the carrier with the best coverage right where users actually use their iOS devices. The trouble, according to CNN Money, is the way the app gets its data. Dave Goldman explains:
Here's the catch: The app is only as good as its crowd-sourced data. SwayMarkets has a starting data set pulled in from its previously released NetSnaps app, but CarrierCompare will only become really useful if a critical mass of people adopt it.
Another more recent issue that's hurting CarrierCompare is the removal of one of the three key metrics - Signal Strength - leaving only Response and Speed measurements. Users are not happy, and SwayMarkets explanation is confusing. In the App Store they state:
This update removes the ability to measure signal strength as one of the metrics we use to compare carriers. Luckily, when compared to our other measurements, signal strength has the smallest impact on the quality of your data service. We are actively working to find a way to bring this feature back in the future. If it is important to you, please let us know by emailing us from CarrierCompare or our website.
But on their website (on a page that looks bizarrely, if not deceptively, like a page from Wikipedia) they politely blame Apple and urge users to take up their cause by leaving comments about the app:
We had to remove signal strength in order to remain in compliance with our developer agreement with Apple and avoid having our apps removed from the App Store entirely. Apple has been very cooperative through this process, and we are pursuing ways of bringing signal strength back in the future. ... However, we recognize that signal strength is an important metric for comparing voice quality, so we encourage you to mention it in your reviews and emails to us - it can only help raise awareness.
Some users report the app crashes or doesn’t work, but Philip Elmer-DeWitt in his article for CNN Money had no issues with his testing in Brooklyn. The app is free of charge and ad free so if you give it a test run, let us know what you think.