In May, Netflix launched Fast.com, a website that showed users their internet speed. At first glance, it may have seemed out of character, but for a company delivering streaming video, internet speed is something to take very seriously.
The site took off in terms of popularity, despite plenty of other sites offering similar functionality. Now, Netflix is making it even easier for mobile users to see just how fast their connection is with the launch of its new FAST Speed Test app, available for iOS and Android devices.
While other speed testing apps opt for comparatively flashy designs, Netflix’s app keeps things simple, with a large number showing your measured speed taking up the bulk of the screen. This aspect doesn’t just apply to the look of the app, but how it functions as well.
Most speed test apps show both download and upload speed, but Netflix’s app opts to only show download speed. The reason is simple, according to a post by Sergey Fedorov and Ellen Livengood on the Netflix Tech Blog: Netflix users only care about download speed, so that’s the number the company focuses on.
Since Netflix is in the business of delivering video, this is also how its app works. The app downloads 25 MB video files, split across a varying number of parallel connections, which can vary based on the user’s device and connectivity. How long the test takes to run depends on the user’s connection, with lower latency connections reaching peak speed much faster than high latency connections. Users can also compare Netflix’s results against results from SpeedTest.net, allowing for a second opinion.
The app is free to download, free of advertisements, and is available now via the App Store and the Google Play Store. You don’t even need a Netflix account — simply download and run the app. For a much deeper dive into how Netflix goes about measuring connection speed, see the blog post.
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