Tablets have enabled business users to get serious about being mobile. They are ultra portable, user-friendly, and get more feature-rich and powerful with each iteration. Many tablets (such as the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab) are happily using 4G networking, which is — in comparison to other mobile networks — quite speedy. Of course, there are times when you either have no 4G signal or the 4G speed simply isn't fast enough. Fortunately, you can utilize your tablet's Wi-Fi connection.
But what if you're traveling and you don't know where to find wireless access points or free wireless spots? Before you travel, download the WiFi Finder application by JiWire Inc. to make sure that you have a map of exactly where the free and paid wireless connections are located. Here are some things you can do with this free app:
- Scan for Wi-Fi hotspots near you
- Search for public Wi-Fi anywhere in the world
- View Wi-Fi hotspot details, call hotspot, location, get directions, share the hotspot, report the hotspot as dead
- Filter results by location or provider type
- Work both online and offline
The one caveat to using WiFi Finder is that you must first be online. If you own a tablet with Wi-Fi only, you must use this tool with a bit of planning, and you must make sure you download the offline database (which, as I will explain later, is not terribly obvious). Once you have that offline database installed, you're golden and can locate the necessary hotspots, even if you don't have a connection.
Let's take a look at how to install and use this application.
- Open up the Google Play Store
- Search for "wifi finder" (no quotes)
- Tap Download
- Review the Permissions
- Tap Accept & download
- After the installation is completed, you'll find WiFi Finder in the App Drawer (or as an icon on your homescreen), and simply tap the icon to open the app
UsageFirst, be sure to download the offline database. With this database installed, you can then locate Wi-Fi hotspots without a network connection. To install this database, open WiFi Finder, and from the main screen (Figure A), tap the Install offline database link. Figure A
Here you see WiFi Finder on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab.
After the offline database is installed, you're ready to start using the tool (online or offline). You can now search a specific location location for access points — the more specific the location, the easier to read the results. Searching by zip code has always given me the best results with WiFi Finder.
To run a search, do the following:
- Open WiFi Finder
- Enter your search term (such as zip code) in the search bar
- Tap the Search button
- Wait for the results to appear
- Once the Search button is tapped, the Location Window will open (Figure B) where you can then select any one of the "pinned" access points to get more information
Either tap on the pin for the location or the listing in the right navigation to view the hotspot information.Once you select a hotspot, more information will appear about that location (Figure C). From that slide-out information tab, you can do the following:
- Get the address of the hotspot
- Get directions to the hotspot
- Add the location to your favorites
- Share the hotspot
- Report the hotspot as closed
You can narrow your search results by Venue Type, Paid, Free, and Provider by tapping the associated button or tab at the top of the right pane.
Hotspots nearbyIf you just want to know what hotspots are nearby, tap the Near Me button at the top of the screen. This will list all hotspots based on your GPS location. You can also use WiFi Finder as a hotspot scanner (in case a hotspot isn't listed). When you run the scan, WiFi Finder will display all hotspots in the immediate vicinity (Figure D). Figure D
Any hotspot in green has open security. Red means the hotspot is password protected.
WiFi Finder is one of the handiest apps for anyone using a tablet on the go. If you depend upon your tablet for mobile work, and Wi-Fi hotspots are a necessity, WiFi Finder is a must-have app.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.