OpenSignal has been doing a bang up job of crowdsourcing information on mobile network coverage for years with its iPhone and Android apps. It diversified into weather reporting and now it’s turned its attention to Wi-Fi hotspots.
WifiMapper, its new iOS app, uses the same crowdsourced approach to pull together a database that it claims contains details on more than 500 million networks across the world, with two million recommended options.
What makes this hotspot finder stand out from the others – and there are lots – is that it meshes together OpenSignal’s data with information from Foursquare. That means it shows not just whether a network is free to access, but what kind of location it’s in and whether you’ll dig the surroundings.
OpenSignal has also been measuring the quality of Wi-Fi networks that users have connected to, so the app should lead you to the most reliable options. It also detects whether you’ll be redirected to a login page – a telltale sign that you might have to pay for access.
Right now, WifiMapper doesn’t ask you to contribute your own information to OpenSignal’s database – it makes money by selling anonymized performance data to the networks – but it’s likely to in the future.
And while the app is free, there’s also talk of introducing paid options such as offline coverage maps to help travellers hunt down a connection when they don’t want to pay for cellular data.
All in all, that feels like a fair trade off for an app with an interface that’s easy to get your head around and does the job of identifying and grading the Wi-Fi hotspots pretty efficiently
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