The iPhone has many fantastic features, but Apple’s choice to disable form-filling and password storage in Mobile Safari means lots of tedious re-entry of data. At hotspots, this can be particularly irritating if you have an account, and have to dig out the details, tap them in, and inevitably – as I do – make a mistake in the process. (Apple might have removed this feature for security reasons, but could have allowed it with an App Store-like requirement to enter a password that’s good only for a time-limited session.)
Devicescape solved this problem years ago with software that can run under Mac OS X and Windows and on an increasingly large number of mobile devices, mostly smartphones. Their software works in concert with an account you maintain on their servers that contains any network information you choose, including encryption keys for home networks.
A year ago, I wrote about Devicescape’s Connect software (see “Connect More Easily to Wi-Fi Hotspots with the iPhone,” 2007-09-17), which required a jailbroken iPhone. This software has finally been released with Apple’s approval via the App Store as the $1.99 Easy Wi-Fi.
Easy Wi-Fi’s price is noted as introductory; previously, Devicescape hasn’t charged consumers for their product, but they might be testing the waters in this market since there’s nothing quite like what they’re offering. Since I’d suggest that every iPhone and iPod touch owner who uses hotspots buy this software, perhaps they could make a few dollars this way.
Even though I have a Boingo Wireless subscription that gives me access to tens of thousands of U.S. locations for a flat monthly rate, Boingo doesn’t offer iPhone software yet, so I must tediously find and enter my login information through partner pages on the hotspots that Boingo aggregates. Devicescape supports hundreds of hotspot network credential-entering systems, including Boingo’s, so it’s a neat pairing that saves me money (Boingo) and time plus frustration (Devicescape).
Beyond plugging in hotspot passwords, you can enter home network keys and then choose a set of buddies with whom to share those keys automatically through the software. While you can, of course, give friends and colleagues the passwords for your network, Devicescape’s approach lets you change your network password without alerting your friends, remove friends or colleagues from having access, and obviate others’ need to enter your password details.
Devicescape doesn’t currently offer enterprise authentication presets through 802.1X, also known as WPA/WPA2 Enterprise. Apple added 802.1X support through the use of a separate provisioning application with the iPhone 2.0 software release.