iNet for OS X & iOS Reveals Devices on Your Network

| Quick Look Review

With Christmas just around the corner, you may be adding some new Ethernet devices to your home network. These days, keeping track of them, their IP addresses, their services, and even how close you may be to exceeding the DHCP license limit on your router is essential. iNet from BananaGlue will help you do that and more.

Just the Basics

The most obvious thing you’d like to do is scan your home (or small business) network and simply see a list of all the devices that have an IP address — and which are currently awake and responding. This is the “Network Scanner” mode. (CMD-1) Here’s the basic screen shot from BananaGlue GmbH.

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Device listing (left), edit name & icon (right)

The nice thing here is that you can sort by name, vendor or IP address. Just right click on an entry to edit the name and give it the appropriate icon. For Apple devices, the device type is recognized and it’s automatically given a colorful icon, actually an image, of the Apple device. In the case of non-Apple equipment, for example, an AV receiver, a ROKU box or a Blu-ray player that have Ethernet, you’ll need to select from one of the Black & White icons.

I exchanged some e-mail with the developer, and they admit that they’re still working on the design of icons for popular non-Apple devices. For these devices, I expect the app is going to be a lot cooler looking in the future.

Another minor issue is that this app is available for both OS X (10.6 or later) and iOS (iOS 4.0 or later). That’s good, of course, but if you change the name and icon on, say, the Mac side, it doesn’t take effect on the iOS side. Again, BananaGlue is working on that and will use iCloud technology to bring about a sync.

Knowing which devices and how many are on your network has advantages. Your wired or wireless router may have a limit on how many devices can get a DHCP address. (Mine does.) So if you can’t get a connection after installing some new equipment, knowing all the devices you have online might help. And, believe me, it’s easy to overlook some. Like that ROKU you got last Christmas. Or a family member’s iPod touch laying around in a bedroom.

After you’ve scanned your network and listed all the devices, you can print the list to, say, paper or PDF. I’d show my own list, but for the sake of privacy, I’d have to blot most of it. It’s a tidy, good looking list in numerical IP address order. It includes the MAC address and vendor name.

If this is all the app did for six bucks, it would be a steal. But wait, that’s not all.

A Whole Lot More

The device listing above is probably what most people are after, but there’s a bevy of additional functions for the more advanced user. You can, for example, right click on a device and see all the connection modes. Those marked with a green dot are verified open ports, but as the docs mention, some other modes may be there, just dormant or not advertising. I was able to easily mount an AFP volume this way.

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Connection Modes

The next icon downwards on the left side bar, the “Bonjour Browser,” (CMD-2) reveals the details of the Bonjour domain, either by services or hosts. If you want to see the technical details of your Bonjour network and check on, say, the new Wi-Fi sync, this is the place to do it.

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Bonjour Network

The last icon on the left, “AirPort Monitor,” (CMD-3) is a Wi-Fi network analysis tool. It lists your AirPort devices, their state, the traffic throughput, and so on. You can look at an enormous amount of technical detail here with the “Interfaces” and “Details” buttons on the top right.

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Wi-Fi, WAN and LAN throughput graphs

Click on the Wi-Fi clients tab, and then you can see all your Wi-Fi clients, the signal & noise per device, the data rate, and so on. You could spend a lot of time getting familiar with your network, and that could come in very handy if, later, something doesn’t seem to be working right.

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Wi-Fi Clients, S/N, data rate

 

As the name of the last option implies, “AirPort Monitor,” this function only works with Apple AirPort equipment. The developer told me that they’re working to extend this kind of support to other routers, but it will take some time. Of note is that when your AirPort base station is in bridge mode, the IP Address (middle field) in the screen shot above is blank because the IP address isn’t accessible. But even in non-bridged mode, there’s a bug that prevents the display. That bug that will be fixed soon, according to the developer. Finally, as an aside, note that the Settings/gear icon on the upper left of the main page isn’t the same as the app’s Preferences under the app’s name in the menu bar.

The iPhone Version

There is a companion version for the iPhone, both a free version, similar to the OS X version and a paid version which is also US$5.99. It’s not a Universal app, but it does run in 2X mode on the iPad and looks decent. I’d recommend getting the OS X version first, then add the free iPhone version later if you need to be mobile as you do your checks. Finally, get the full featured iOS version for an additional six bucks if you need that.

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iPhone listing of devices

The paid iOS version adds the ability to scan networks and Bonjour services, ping, do a port scan, and use the Wake on LAN feature - which can wake up a sleeping OS X device. Your Mac System Preferences -> Energy Saver setting must be set to allows this. The developer says that the ping will work even if the Mac is in “stealth mode,” and he’s right. (System Preferences -> Security -> Firewall -> Advanced.)

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iNet Pro (iPhone) Functions

The developer told me that, eventually, these advanced features in the paid iOS version will make it over to the OS X version

Summary

This is a Quick Look review. I could go into a lot more technical detail without necessarily helping with a purchase decision. Here’s the bottom line. If you have a home network, a Mac or two and several Wi-Fi devices, you will want to invest a few bucks for this app, available in the Mac App Store for Lion as well as in the iTunes/App Store for your iPhone. (Paid seperately.) It’s that simple. Not only will you learn a lot, but it’s a great tool for trouble-shooting.

More advanced users will find the listing of MAC hardware addresses handy if they want to, say, limit Wi-Fi access by MAC address in an AirPort base station. Or get a feel for signal strengths in various offices or household rooms. Or audit the services each device is advertising. Or detect a device on the network by MAC address and want to see if it’s authorized. Of course, UNIX professionals have their favorite command line tools, but this one, with its beautiful GUI, will provide a lot more info a lot faster.

I found it enormously informative, well designed, educational and easy to look at. It works on many levels, so while it may seem like too much geek fun for many casual users, the cataloging of devices on your home network, at the most basic level, will likely come in very handy. The price makes it a must-have utility. Just be aware that the icons for the non-Apple devices are a work in progress.

Product: iNet for OS X and iOS

Company: Banana Glue GmbH

List Price: US$5.99 (OS X). iOS basic version free. iNet Pro for iOS: US$5.99.

Pros:

A visual, easy to understand documentation of all the devices on your network: IP Address, manufacturer, MAC address, services. Also shows Wi-Fi network status and performance.

Cons:

Icons for non-Apple devices still a work in progress.

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Comments

geoduck

I’ve been using the free version of iNet for around six months now. It’s the handiest thing I’ve found for sniffing networks. It was also the ONLY ‘wardriving’ app I could find on the AppStore. I used to have to go around with a laptop checking each room in the resort that had a WAP to see if it was up. With iNet on my iPod Touch I could just walk down the hall stop every so often and refresh. A lot less time and effort lugging a Windows laptop around.

The only issue I’ve run into is at my current job. I tried to sniff the network here and it stopped at 8 items (there’s over 50 on the network). When I checked the logs on the SonicWall firewall I discovered it was set to clamp down any time it saw massive port scanning going on. It thought I was trying a DDOS attack on the network. No biggie for me but be aware that some networks might restrict the use of this, or likely any tool.

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