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