SpaceX’s Starlink mobile app got a refreshing upgrade this week that makes it easier to find clear patches of sky and monitor connection outages — and adds a new dark mode for its user interface. The app improvements came out yesterday as SpaceX reported 90,000 active users in its open “better than nothing” beta phase, which spans rural regions across 12 different countries so far.
The “completely updated and renovated” version, as SpaceX describes in its Apple’s App Store changelog, includes a new way to scan your surroundings for obstructions before installing a Starlink terminal. Like its previous method, the app directs users to scan their surroundings using their phone cameras, but the new version generates a tiny dome around your Starlink dish that overlays potential obstructions, marked by different colors. Reddit users seemed impressed.
Big Starlink app update has a fancy 3D obstruction checker that’s way more informative and helpful. The most important Starlink accessory is still a chainsaw, though pic.twitter.com/Rmd75Iy1jk
— nilay patel (@reckless) August 3, 2021
The new update also allows users to track how frequently Starlink service drops with a new outage log that visualizes data on usage, latency and uptime.
SpaceX has launched 1,740 Starlink satellites since 2019, positioning itself as the world’s largest satellite operator with roughly 1,650 currently in orbit (after some were de-orbited). The company told the Federal Communications Commission (PDF) on Monday that Starlink has roughly 90,000 active users, which includes both individual households and various government users like schools, towns, and fire departments.
The potential for Starlink, a massive internet-from-space service, to upend the market for grounded broadband fiber might be tantalizing, but the company has a ways to go, as we noted in our review in May. SpaceX has updated its Starlink app a few times since then, with Monday’s update being the biggest so far.