Today is the 10th Anniversary of WiFi Explorer! I released the first version of WiFi Explorer on the Mac App Store ten years ago, on January 17, 2012. I came up with the idea of developing a Wi-Fi scanner for macOS after the successful release of an iPhone version, called WiFi Analyzer, back in 2009. Sadly, WiFi Analyzer only lasted a few months in the market after Apple removed it from the App Store in March 2010, permanently banning WiFi Analyzer and other Wi-Fi scanners from the App Store.
When I wrote WiFi Analyzer, I didn’t know anything about iOS development, Objective-C, and, to be honest, not much about Wi-Fi either. My experience in Wi-Fi networks was limited to the research and development of routing protocols for mobile ad-hoc networks. Developing WiFi Analyzer was a great learning experience!
When Apple pulled out WiFi Analyzer from the App Store, it didn’t surprise me since I knew using private frameworks (required for Wi-Fi scanning) would eventually be banned. Still, I was disappointed that we no longer had any options for Wi-Fi scanning using an iPhone and decided to make WiFi Analyzer available for jailbroken iPhones. However, not being a fan of jailbreaking myself, I started looking into Wi-Fi scanning on macOS and chose to write WiFi Explorer.
I spent my Holiday vacation in 2011 working on a very rough first version and launched WiFi Explorer 1.0 shortly after, in January 2012. For a year, the app did just fine and got a few new features and improvements. It wasn’t until December 30, 2012, that the app really took off after a review published by Macworld (which still had a paper edition back then). I woke up in 2013 to WiFi Explorer being the most downloaded app in the Mac App Store!
By that time, I had become more involved with the Wi-Fi community, especially on Twitter. I also started looking into the CWNP program and became CWNA certified. The knowledge I acquired studying for the certification and the interactions on social media led me to implement many new features, including the “Advanced Details” tab, which allows users to inspect the information elements that networks advertise in the beacon and probe response frames. This feature revolutionized Wi-Fi scanners, as it wasn’t a capability that existed before, at least not to the level of detail that WiFi Explorer had. To this day, the “Advanced Details” tab provides handy packet-level info for troubleshooting many issues without the need for packet captures and protocol analyzers like Wireshark.
As the app was growing in popularity among Mac users in the Wi-Fi community, I first attended the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference (WLPC) in February 2016 to learn more about Wi-Fi and hear from the users themselves what their needs were. Attending WLPC was a great experience, and I came home with a notebook full of ideas. Eventually, as WiFi Explorer matured and to avoid making it overly complex, especially for home users, I decided to fork the project and implement a professional version to meet the requirements of WLAN professionals. Thus, I first launched WiFi Explorer Pro on June 2017, and a new, re-designed version, WiFi Explorer Pro 3, on November 2020.
The Wi-Fi community welcomed the professional version while I continued to polish WiFi Explorer, making changes to modernize the user interface as new versions of macOS were released. I also made available a “lite” version, WiFi Explorer Lite, targeting users looking for a quick and straightforward way of visualizing nearby Wi-Fi networks that didn’t need more sophisticated or advanced features. In 2020, users chose WiFi Explorer as The Wi-Fi Awards Product of the Year, recognizing all the work and effort I put into making WiFi Explorer the leading Wi-Fi scanner for macOS.
10 years of WiFi Explorer
I’m very grateful for all the opportunities made possible by developing WiFi Explorer, which finally led me to leave my job in 2020 as a research associate and form my own software development company, Intuitibits LLC. However, the most important thing is all the great people that I’ve met during this adventure. Kind, knowledgeable people who share a passion for Wi-Fi and have positively impacted my life and the development of WiFi Explorer.
During these ten years, users worldwide have downloaded and installed 229,371 copies of the standard version of WiFi Explorer, 159,032 copies of WiFi Explorer Lite, and 3,708 copies of WiFi Explorer Pro (all versions combined).
Thank you for all your support, and I hope WiFi Explorer continues to help you achieve great Wi-Fi.