Everyone living in India is has experienced shouting into a phone saying "Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?", while you are walking around trying to find that one spot where the connection actually works.
The makers of the app Tiktik have tried to find a solution to this problem using data from TRAI. The telecom regulator releases a lot of data about networks, speeds, and connectivity, and finding the relevant information for your area and your network can be a challenge, but Tiktik automates the process, so you can find the best network in your area.
The free app, available on Android, requires a somewhat frightening number of permissions to run, including the ability to access your accounts, contacts, location, SMS, phone, read and modify files, access storage, device ID, full network access, and so on. That's because the app also helps you to start the processing of porting networks, and change other settings as well, but it is still hard to justify the level of access being given, considering that the primary function - of checking the network in your area, is accomplished by querying TRAI online. Here's what the app's Google Play listing page has to say on why these permissions are needed:
- Location: to identify the best mobile network wherever you are in India
- SMS: to send toll-free SMS to protect you against spam callers & balance cuts. We receive SMS, don't read them. We need this for port, control SIM features.
- Phone: to dial and check my best offers for you.
- Photos: to instantly share app insights with your friends. We will not access your personal files.
- Identity & Device ID: to send a few important notifications (not ads) to your email ID. No spam guaranteed.
- Contacts & Call-Log: for the fun-insights. This feature works even on aeroplane mode, we don't access any personal information.
If you're comfortable with the various permissions, then the app does actually work pretty well, and is nicely designed too. When you start the app, you'll see a list of languages to choose from - eight in total - including English, Hindi, and other Indian languages.
The first screen after that is a simple and easy to decipher screen that shows you the various networks in your area (picked through location detection), based on the data published by TRAI. This is based on TRAI's Myspeed app and that means there is fairly detailed data from around the country, particularly in urban areas.
We tested the app in both Bengaluru and Delhi, and saw consistent results which matched the information we could get from the TRAI site, so Tiktik is using live or at least recent data. So right now, for example, data on Jio's relative coverage in Mayur Vihar Phase 1 isn't available, but the average download speed is listed at above 10Mbps. For comparison, we also tried out Netflix's Fast.com, where the speed of our Jio connection (at the time of writing) was 8Mbps. Tiktik shows Vodafone as having a full strength connection, with a speed between 5-10Mbps, the same as Airtel, while Fast.com put our Vodafone connection at 8.7Mbps.
That's important because even on a minute to minute basis, there is plenty of fluctuation in mobile data speeds and signal strength, so the information being given by Tiktik should be treated as indicative, not absolute. As long as you remember that, it would be helpful to use.
That's just the first part of what the app does however. On this screen itself, you'll see a door icon (the exit icon) which you can tap to send the MNP SMS to port out of your telco without any effort. The app also lets you figure out which telco to shift to, based on the network in your neighbourhood and what's the best plan available for you. The next tab(s) meanwhile shows you the best plans and services available from your telco(s), and you can also see the talk time and data remaining on your SIM (assuming you have a prepaid connection). Tiktik also claims that the recharge offers it has provide better savings. The app isn't ad-supported either, unlike many other free apps from India.
Finally, there's a tab labeled "fun", and it shows you the people you speak to the most. You can see charts breaking down whether you call that person or receive calls from them; you have "one call friends", and so on, all represented in boxes of different sizes depending on how much you contact them. We didn’t find it to be particularly useful, but if you're trying to analyse your calling behaviour, it could be handy.
All in all, Tiktik is a nice looking app that could be very useful if you are thinking of changing your operator. It'll find the best offers, the fastest networks, and everything happens through an intuitive interface. What we didn't like is the permissions the app requires, though most of these can be explained.
Tiktik is available as a free download on the Play Store.