The talk on the street is free Wi-Fi – everybody is talking about it, even the US Government wants to create a super network across the country, helping to eliminate the high price of using a cell phone to make calls. Will it ever happen? It is a bold move and is sure to run into opposition from the big carriers. Many cities are starting to offer free Wi-Fi for the convenience of downtown visitors – another benefit for visiting the city and another reason to stay and spend money. Some big name companies, such as Google, are even lending a hand. There are many local shops, such as some Starbucks, McDonalds, motels, etc. offer free Wi-Fi for the convenience of their guests. With all of these signals flying around, how do we know where there will be a signal before we get there…and how good is the signal?
There is an app for that – WifiMapper for Android is making its arrival today, is powered by almost 500 million global hotspots and it automatically picks the best free Wi-Fi spots. They have remixed their Wi-Fi data with others, such as Foursquare, so you not only can find the best free hotspot, but also find out how good the coffee is. It can save users money on their data plan and roaming charges. The WifiMapper App will map the free Wi-Fi hotspots closet to you, and you will receive Foursquare and WifiMapper comments about each of the venues, and it will even give you performance information about the hotspot before you begin using it.
There are edit functions that allow you to tell the ‘community’ more about the Wi-Fi spot by adding your personal comments. Both password sharing and offline hotspot maps will be coming soon. The Android version includes a couple of features not in the iOS version – you can connect to Wi-Fi without leaving the app and it adds a sort of personal Wi-Fi diary where you can see a history of all the spots you have connected to, where they are, how often you connected and how much data you used.
The team from OpenSignal that crowdsources data on mobile coverage and signal strength developed WifiMapper. They use that data to build coverage maps and analyze the performance of mobile carriers. They developed WifiMapper based on their own algorithms and they continue to get stronger and more accurate the more members that join their Wi-Fi community. As members use the app and correct errors on the status of the networks it helps improve WifiMapper for everyone.