I know that WiFinder [Itunes Link] has been out for a few months and we have discussed it here before,  but a new version recently came out and I thought it was time to discuss this amazingly simple but quite useful app again.

I have been using Wifinder (by Lars Bergstrom) for about a month now. It was only .99 cents, and I have to say it is one of my most useful apps.

I have been traveling a lot lately and due to signal issue, I have had to frequently look around to find an available wifi signal. This was especially true when I went to Canada. This time because I didn’t want to pay the enormous cost of Data Roaming so I had to find wifi if I wanted to use my phone’s Internet connection.

When I can find an AT&T hotspot, I’m all set, but what do you do when there isn’t one available and you can’t use your data connection.

Internet skunking (the act of stealing some time on someone’s open wifi network) isn’t actually legal, but who does it hurt if you are only going to use if for a few minutes to check your mail or lookup something in Google?

Finding those “open” signals when you are traveling can be hard, especially when you are in a populated area.  In some parts of NYC, you can see hundreds of wifi signals, but most of them locked. The ones that aren’t locked, usually require a login on a web page the first time you access the connection.

You know the drill.  You find an available network and when you try to use it, you get shunted to login web page where they want you to either pay or promise your first born child.

But also out there are those wonderful individuals who just plugged in their wifi hub and didn’t set up any authentication and those kind hearted individuals, who, out of the goodness of their hearts, created a guest login.

WiFinder lets you quickly find and identify those that are not only not using authentication but don’t try to force you to login to a network page as well.  For those of you who don’t know, Wifinder locates Wifi signals, and it sends a quick html post message to each connection to see if they are really available.  It shows a green check icon next to the Wifi networks that are not restricted by either an authorization requirement Or a web login requirement.

When I was in Halifax getting ready to set sail on a fishing trip, I needed to quickly find the phone number of the boat owner. At the time I didn’t have WiFinder and, using just the built in Network Browser, it looked like there was 20 free Wifi Connections.  I had to systematically try each one, (connect to the network, open safari, try to browse to Google).  Out of the 20 available networks only 2 were really Open. WiFinder would have identified the two in a matter of seconds.

That was it for the functionality of the first version, but the newest version, you can actually get information about the network and use Wifinder to establish a connection to it, without having to back out of it and select it again in the Network Settings.

This latest version also lets you set a time for automatically rescanning intervals and lets you setup an alert to let you know when a new network is found. Cool feature when you can’t find a free one right away, but want to be notified without having to check every few minutes as you move around town.

  • Nice post, Alicia. I had seen this app before but I thought it was useless as I was using the iPhone built-in network browser. But WiFinder goes far beyond the limited capabilities of the built-in browser. Definitely a must have app for anyone traveling.