October 31, 2014

App Review: WeFi

We often take it for granted but it is great to be able to carry these small devices around with constant web and data connections. While each of us have our respective wireless providers, many prefer to connect through WiFi wherever possible. Why? Because in most cases it is free.  This is very important if you are abroad and want to avoid huge roaming charges.  Then it is generally faster and less congested than your carrier’s network.

The problem is that in many cities there are too many connections to choose from. How can you know which one of the ten available access points is the one to safely and freely use… A lot of trial and error.

WeFi can help you. WeFi is using crowdsourcing to get a map of all the best WiFi access points so that your device (not you) will always knows which one is the best to hock up to. They have clients for most platform as well as an online map of the access points in their database. Obviously out of the 52 million points in the database, not all are open and free and there are certainly a lot more in Manhattan than in remote villages in Eastern Europe.  However, if you have a look at the map and the live counter on WeFi website you’ll see that the database is growing very fast.

WeFi runs in the background of your Android phone and will connect to the best access points available whenever the device needs.  Among the custom settings, users can define their ‘home’ network, decide how the app behaves when plugged in, and more.  There is also some sort of cache in the app so it will know, without having to access the internet, which one of the access points around you are the best.

The main avantage of this app is that it is transparent to the user.  It’s not necessary to  register new access points you find or submit anything –  it will be done automatically. For those concerned about privacy, it will never share WEP or WPA keys or paid login/password with other users.  WeFi keeps you safe on your phone and protects your home or work network.

This App Was Tested Using: Nexus One running stock Android 2.1 and HTC Hero running MCR2.8.
Presentation: The icons are clear and the screens easy to find though the little running logo could become annoying.
Value: Free, can’t do better than that.
Stability/Resources: When there are too many access points and the app doesn’t know which one to use it will try most of them and this process can be sometime frustrating.
Bottom Line: Check the map to find out first about the WiFi around the places you visit often to decide if it will be worth using or maybe you will be willing to map ans share the network around these places if it doesn’t exist.

WeFi also have an API available if you want to use this technology in your app. This is what have done the developer of LooKATOR, a augmented reality app that shows you the wifi access points around you.