New in iOS 7: Wi-Fi HotSpot 2.0

new iOS 7 features

Yesterday we posted a list of 24 iOS 7 features that Apple didn’t talk about during its keynote. Well, there’s probably hundreds of features it didn’t talk about. But these were listed on a slide shown behind Tim Cook towards the end of the event.

One of the features listed, which you can see in the image above, is WiFi HotSpot 2.0. For those unfamiliar with the technology, it allows devices to switch seamlessly between cell networks and public WiFi networks without needing authentication…

Jon Brodkin of ArsTechnica explains:

“Hotspot 2.0 is the technology specification behind the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Passpoint certification program. As we wrote last year, the goal of Passpoint is to create a Wi-Fi extension of cellular networks, making it easier for service providers to offload traffic and give users faster Internet connections. Instead of typing in a password, a user could authenticate to the network automatically by virtue of owning a device with a SIM card. Passpoint-enabled devices within range of a Passpoint-supporting hotspot would automatically join it and get the benefit of WPA2 security.”

So the way I understand it is like this: If you’re on a carrier like AT&T, which has thousands of Wi-Fi spots around the US, your iOS 7 iPhone will switch to one of these hotspots without you having to do anything—perfect for poor service areas.

Of course, Passpoint is going to need a huge network of hotspots for any of this to be useful. There’s no word on how many exist at this point, but ArsTechnica says that 30 providers are conducting Passpoint trials and expect to deploy it later this year.