Find wireless hot spots before you travel with Wi-Fi Finder

If you depend upon your tablet for mobile work, and Wi-Fi hot spots are a necessity, Jack Wallen says that Wi-Fi Finder is a must-have app.

Tablets have enabled business users to get serious about being mobile. They are ultraportable, 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 -- compared with 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 Wi-Fi Finder 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 hot spots near you.
  • Search for public Wi-Fi anywhere in the world.
  • View Wi-Fi hot-spot details, call hot spot, location, get directions, share the hot spot, report the hot spot as dead.
  • Filter results by location or provider type.
  • Work both online and offline.

The one caveat to using Wi-Fi 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 hot spots, even if you don't have a connection.

Let's take a look at how to install and use this application.

Installation

Like any Android application, the installation of Wi-Fi Finder is easy (there's also a Wi-Fi Finder app in the App Store for the iPhone and iPad). Follow these steps:
  1. Open up the Google Play store
  2. Search for "wifi finder" (no quotes)
  3. Tap Download
  4. Review the Permissions
  5. Tap Accept & download
  6. After the installation is completed, you'll find Wi-Fi Finder in the App Drawer (or as an icon on your home screen), and simply tap the icon to open the app.

Usage

First, be sure to download the offline database. With this database installed, you can then locate Wi-Fi hot spots without a network connection. To install this database, open Wi-Fi 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. Jack Wallen/Tech Republic

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:

  1. Open Wi-Fi Finder.
  2. Enter your search term (such as ZIP code) in the search bar.
  3. Tap the Search button.
  4. Wait for the results to appear.
  5. 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

Figure B

Any hot spot in green has open security. Red means the hot spot is password protected. Jack Wallen/Tech Republic

Once you select a hot spot, 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 hot spot.
  • Get directions to the hot spot.
  • Add the location to your favorites.
  • Share the hot spot.
  • Report the hot spot as closed.

Figure C

Either tap on the pin for the location or the listing in the right navigation to view the hot spot information. Jack Wallen/Tech Republic

Hot spots nearby

If 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 Wi-Fi Finder as a hotspot scanner (in case a hot spot isn't listed). When you run the scan, Wi-Fi Finder will display all hot spots in the immediate vicinity (Figure D).

Figure D

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. Jack Wallen/Tech Republic

Wi-Fi 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 hot spots are a necessity, Wi-Fi Finder is a must-have app.

This post originally appeared at Tech Republic's Tablets in the Enterprise under the headline "Let WiFi Finder help you locate wireless connections."

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Looking for an affordable tablet?

CNET rounds up high-quality tablets that won't break your wallet.