Devicescape’s Easy Wi-Fi Makes it Simpler for iPhone Users to Connect to Wi-Fi Hotspots

BY Jason

Published 7 Nov 2008

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AT&T finally announced free Wi-Fi for its iPhone users in the US last week. If you want to simplify accessing free Wi-Fi from your iPhone at over 17,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots then you might want to checkout Devicescape’s iPhone app called Easy Wi-Fi.

Easy Wi-Fi automatically connects your iPhone to Wi-Fi hotspots without all the need of tapping in user names and passwords, clicking the "Accept" buttons, or remembering the lengthy encryption keys.

Devicescape had released their unofficial iPhone app called "Connect" with similar functionality for the jailbroken iPhone more than a year back.

With its Easy Wi-Fi iPhone app, Devicescape wants to make it simpler for iPhone users to connect to Wi-Fi networks without the the tedious process of entering user names and passwords.

So how does it work?

First, you need to store the authentication information required to connect to a network in your account on their My Devicescape website for all the Wi-Fi hotspots and networks you commonly use, which can be done from your iPhone as well as your computer. Devicescape automates the login process for dozens of for-fee hotspot networks and aggregators of hotspots, including T-Mobile HotSpot, AT&T WiFi, Fon, Boingo, iPass, and others, as well as dozens of free networks that require some confirmation step or login account to use.

You then need to install Easy Wi-Fi on your iPhone, so when you’re at a hotspot for which you’ve entered the authentication information required, all you will need to do is simply tap the Connect application and click Login. The application connects to the local network, tunnels your login request through the hotspot’s DNS service (sounds quiet clever but not sure if it will work all the time), receives back an encrypted set of login details, and then passes those credentials on to the hotspot to make a successful connection. In case of free networks, the app knows to "click" the right button, sending a Web request with the correct response in it. However, due to some limitations (mentioned below) it does not work as seamlessly for all networks and needs a one-time manual intervention.

To access AT&T’s free Wi-Fi, sign up for a free Devicescape account, search for "AT&T" and select "AT&T Wi-Fi (iPhone)" from the list of hotspots, and enter your iPhone’s 10-digit phone number. The iPhone app takes care of all the rest. If you already have Easy WiFi installed, you can enter the details via the iPhone app.

Devicescape which also offers clients for other smartphones has also listed down the following limitations of its iPhone app as compared to other platforms:

Will not run in the background

Apple prevents App Store applications from running in the background. On other platforms, the client is able to log you into hotspots without having to start the application, making the Wi-Fi experience truly seamless.

No Personal Networks or Network Sharing

Apple does not allow applications to manipulate the preferred network list (the list of networks known to your iPhone). This means that Devicescape cannot automatically load networks into this list, forcing the user to do this manually the first time. Impacted features, available on the Devicescape web site and available for most other platforms, are personal (home networks) and network sharing.

No Automated Provisioning of Network Names

Similar to the disabling of personal networks, Devicescape is not able to automatically setup the iPhone to connect to all the networks usable by your accounts. For example, a T-Mobile account holder can connect to the “tmobile” network name, but also many other different networks which represent the roaming partners for T-Mobile. On the iPhone, the user must manually scan for and select these networks, at least the first time. This is much less convenient given that the user must experiment or know in advance the roaming relationships of their accounts. Devicescape does this automatically on most other platforms.

Devicescape hopes that Apple will address them in future firmware updates.

While Easy Wi-Fi is free for most platforms, Devicescape’s iPhone App is available for $1.99 on the App Store, you can download it using this iTunes Store link.

You can also refer to this step by step guide to setup Devicescape’s Easy Wi-Fi on your iPhone.

I haven’t been able to use the app extensively, so proceed with caution.

As always, please do let us know your feedback on Easy Wi-Fi in the comments below.

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