What is ANT Radio Service? How Does It Work?


Written by

Rafeal Hart


Fact-checked by

Norris Howe

what is ant radio service

“What is ANT Radio Service,” you asked while browsing your phone. Worry not if you don’t remember downloading it because it is pre-installed and a key element in the features of other applications.

It is a wireless protocol by Garmin Canada Inc associated with health and fitness apps. It dates back to 1998 when Dynastream Innovations Inc (acquired by Garmin) developed a speed and distance monitor for runners.

It’s like Bluetooth but for interacting with fitness and health services/apps.

What is ANT Radio Service and ANT Plugins Service?


ANT means “advanced and adaptive network technology” and it is not related to radio broadcasting (frequency/amplitude modulation) as it’s more similar to Bluetooth.

So, what does ANT radio service do? Radio, after all, is all about data transmission, which ANT delivers for smartphones with health and fitness apps.

It’s under the wireless connectivity family, working like your wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) and near-field communication (NFC). ANT processes real-time data from compatible health, sports, and fitness apps.

Meanwhile, ANT+ Plugins Service is a companion app of the Radio Service, activating the Android connection of the ANT when needed – say, when you’re trekking, and you want to count your steps, so you use a hiking app.

When you tinker with your device and ask, “Why is ANT on my phone even if I did not download it?” There’s no need to worry because it’s pre-installed and remains inactive when any of the apps are idle. Most importantly, it’s not a virus.

When ANT/ANT+ is enabled through an app, the following features can be enjoyed by users:

  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Bike speed and cadence logs
  • Bike power data capture
  • Speed monitoring for runners
  • Distance monitoring
  • Other sports- and fitness-related features requiring real-time data transmission
  • Geocaching (for chirp)

It is compatible with over 500 products, from bike power meters to handheld global positioning system (GPS) devices.

So the next time you ask, “Is ANT Radio Service necessary?” The answer is yes if you’re active or a sports savvy who keeps track of your progress. Talk about fitness goals.

How Does ANT Radio Work?


It’s an ultra-low-power background app that won’t eat storage and deplete your battery. For it to successfully transmit data from your wearable to your phone and vice versa, it creates a personal area network.

The PAN connects your devices so long as they are in your immediate vicinity. It works in the same 2.4 gigahertz radio frequency of Wi-Fi and is compatible with many Android phones so long as it has an updated operating system.

Likewise, if your wearables and other fitness or health-related gadgets are up-to-date and ANT-enabled, you’ll have a smooth time operating them within your PAN.

ANT is already a reliable multicast wireless sensor network (WSN), and adding its plugin service will make the base even more powerful.

Differences Between ANT and Bluetooth


Bluetooth is a one-to-one connection, unlike ANT, which can be linked to multiple devices. For instance, if you’re listening to music from your phone with a Bluetooth speaker and someone’s calling you, you need to disconnect the speaker if you want to answer the call with wireless headphones.

It’s always one-to-one with Bluetooth, which is incompatible with many devices. With ANT, it’s like a party because it can be connected with many products at a time.

Say, you’re a personal fitness trainer, and you want to monitor the heart rate of your trainees while they use the treadmill, you can connect their ANT+ compatible devices to your monitor. So if you have six trainees, you can check six different heart rates in just one device.

ANT is also beneficial to those using multiple devices during an activity, like when you’re monitoring your heart rate or number of steps when walking, all the while listening to music or in a phone call.

  • To recap, Bluetooth is one-to-one, and ANT is one-to-many.

Pros and Cons of ANT Radio Service

  • Accessible to many devices
  • Can be linked to multiple devices at a time (one to many)
  • Pre-installed; can easily be disabled
  • Not heavy on your phone’s memory/storage
  • Only compatible with Android 2.1 and up
  • Incompatible with some Samsung units
  • Might interrupt your phone’s antenna

Applications and Devices Using ANT Radio Service


ANT works with over 1,000 devices, primarily fitness gadgets. It covers the following apps and units, among others:

  • Action cameras
  • Activity monitors
  • Heart rate sensors
  • Smartwatches
  • Apple iOS apps
  • Bike computers
  • Handheld GPS devices
  • Bike power meters
  • Bike speed sensors
  • Bike cadence sensors
  • Gym equipment
  • Garmin Connect IQ apps
  • Foot speed sensors
  • Foot distance sensors
  • Heads-up displays
  • Mac OSX software
  • Weighing scales
  • Windows software

Is ANT Radio Service Compatible With All Fitness Devices?


ANT is a standard in most Android phones, so users can expect compatibility with many fitness devices. That is if your device is ANT-enabled. If not, activate it.

If, for instance, your phone does not have ANT, then you need to install it so you can use it with your wearables and other fitness devices.

Check if your phone has ANT by searching your application list in the settings. When trying to link it with a wearable and you don’t have an ANT, the device will prompt you to install it so you can use ANT+ features.

Otherwise, just download it from the Google Play Store for free. It’s better if your Android device is up to date for smooth usage.

Setting Up and Troubleshooting ANT Radio Service

No setup is needed for the ANT Radio Service since it’s pre-installed. However, if you downloaded it, you’ll have to deal with the usual installation process.

If, for some reason, your phone can’t connect to any wearables, make sure ANT is enabled for both devices. If the issue persists, restart your phone. If this doesn’t solve the issue, uninstall the app and re-download it.

  • If you need a reminder: the device you’re trying to connect should be within range.

Garmin also reminds us that the channel configuration of the devices you’re using should match, and the channel types should be complementary (one master, one slave).

Future of ANT Radio Service

ANT already has over one billion downloads (as of this writing), thanks to its reliable service. As a companion app, it is not well-known even to fitness buffs, and you’re not seeing news about it from your Briefing app because it needs no exposure; it just delivers.

The future is bright for ANT as wireless technology continues to improve. Maybe, someday, it can be connected to your smart home setup and other similar devices, making your health and fitness even more holistic.

The company already introduced wireless technology to the medical field, making ANT not just a mere companion app but probably a life-saver. Who knows, maybe someday, it expands its services to include contactless payment like Samsung Checkout.

As a pre-installed app, ANT knows how to satisfy its users.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is ANT Radio Service spyware?

It is not spyware and, as a standard app for most Android phones, it is a trusted feature. Furthermore, it will not bloat the storage of your device and only uses 20 megabytes of space maximum. It does not have pop-up advertisements, as well.

It has permission access to the following, which you can disable in your phone’s settings:

  • Pair with Bluetooth devices
  • Access Bluetooth settings
  • Full network access
  • Control vibration
  • Modify system settings

It is not a tracking device that will spy on you. To reiterate, it provides wireless connection just like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Lastly, it does not store personal data when you use it, instead, it transmits real-time data.

Can I uninstall ANT Radio Service app from smartphones? How?

You cannot delete the app, but you can disable it. After all, why would you delete something useful? Be that as it may, follow these steps when you want to deactivate it:

  • Go to your phone’s settings.
  • Look for the applications tab.
  • Pick the ANT app.
  • Click ‘Force Stop.’
  • Click ‘Disable.’

What happens if I delete ANT Radio Service?

You cannot get rid of ANT Radio Service unless you’re an expert tinker. Disabling it will not affect any other software or your phone’s performance. To enable it, follow the same steps. The enabling can also be triggered when you use an ANT+-enabled app.


The next time you hear someone ask, “What is ANT radio service?” you now have the basic information about it being a pre-installed app for fitness and health apps.

It is not under the family of radio communication apps but merged with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi – all wireless technology that lets you enjoy the internet of things with ease. It is pre-installed – and can be disabled – and best used by the sporty and active.

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