Question? Has the hardware design team looked at using a ceramic antenna instead of the pcb metal trace. If so, can you supply the mfr and part numbers.
But for ESP8266, you may use any ceramic chip antenna that has 50 ohm input impedance. Otherwise you need impedance matching. This info is usually on the antenna datasheet. All that you need to know is that ESP8266 outputs 2.45GHz signals from an antenna pin that has 50 ohm characteristic impedance. So any antenna will do.
Trace antenna is cheaper with better gain and range than ceramic antenna though.
Off the cuff, I think ESP-07 or some module contained a chip antenna, and you can get that to see what the performance is like. I'd expect lower range than PCB antenna.
And you should not consult an antenna designer or buy software unless you are working on a critical, high volume design. Just order a panel with multiple antenna designs and try them all out, use whatever works best.
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