Glove, a new Android application launching today, is attempting to address a real-world pain point that affects an important decision that nearly every individual or family in the U.S. has to make at some point: which wireless carrier is the best one for you?
To do so, the app is installed on your device where it will run in the background for three days, keeping tabs on where you use your phone, and the network quality.
Typically, when someone is thinking of switching carriers, they ask around, checking with neighbors and friends in their area to find out if the coverage is any good, among other things, including perhaps whether the data plan is too pricey, what phones are available, or how the company’s customer support has treated their friend in the past. Sometimes, you also might pull up reception maps on the various carriers’ websites to try to determine if you’ll run into any dead spots or areas where you won’t be on 4G.
Glove doesn’t try to tackle all the decisions you have when choosing carriers, as its sole focus for right now is on finding you the best network, based on signal quality.
That, however, will change in time, we’re told. In the future, the app will also be used for other things like determining the best customer service or pricing, or determining the best handset per carrier by geography, for example.
Today, though, the Glove app turns to crowdsourcing to make its network quality determinations. That is, the company analyzes subscriber usage patterns and combines those patterns with hundreds of millions of crowd-sourced data points to determine which carriers are best for each user based on where and how the phone is used. This helps Glove determine the best network for you: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint.
Currently, Glove only works in two major U.S. markets: New York and San Francisco, but will roll out to other cities over time.
After you run the app on your phone for the initial few days, Glove will alert you via email when your results are in. Then you can decide if you want to make a switch.
With Glove, their plan is to make money by allowing consumers to switch carriers via the app, for which it would generate a commission of sorts.
To date, the company claims that in early testing Glove data found that approximately 75 percent of the time, people can be on a better carrier for them, from a network quality comparison that is. The app was pilot tested in Israel, however, so I’d imagine these percentages may change as U.S. adoption kicks in.
The idea itself is rather clever, though the business model may leave cynics questioning the accuracy of the results. After all, if the company makes money by recommending a switch, why would it tell users to stay put? At the end of the day, that answer will come down to a matter of trust. As early adopters get their hands on the app, and run their own extensive tests and comparisons with other third-party apps and speed tests, Glove will either be proven worthy or not.
An iOS version of Glove is due out in 2014. In the meantime, the beta Android app is here.