Apple mentioned a lot of things about their new iOS 7 beta, but easy access to Wi-Fi hotspots wasn’t one of them. However, the eagle-eyed folks over at Ars Technica spotted a mention of “Hotspot 2.0” on one of the slides shown during the keynote, and were kind enough to share what exactly that is.
We haven’t quite hit the stage where phones and tablets can roam from any public Wi-Fi network to another as easily as they hop from one cell tower to another. But an attempt to create a network of hotspots supporting seamless handoffs got some more support yesterday with Apple’s announcement of iOS 7.
As we said, while it wasn’t mentioned on Monday, the new version of the operating system for iPhones and iPads will support the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Hotspot 2.0 specification.
Hotspot 2.0 is the technology spec behind the Alliance’s Passpoint certification program. Passpoint has a goal of making Wi-Fi an extension of cellular networks, allowing service providers to offload traffic to ensure faster Internet connections. Users won’t have to type in a password, as authentication would be automatic via the device’s SIM card. A Passpoint-enabled device could automatically join a hotspot, with the benefit of WPA2 security.
While Passpoint hotspots aren’t available in any great numbers currently, 30 operators are conducting trials, and deployments are expected to begin later this year. Hotspot 2.0 was developed in part by companies like AT&T, Boingo, CableVision, Comcast, TimeWarner, and China Mobile, which are among the firms conducting the trials.
Support from smartphone makers is crucial, with Samsung already supporting Passpoint in the Galaxy S4. Numerous wireless access points, and other network products have already been certified for use with the technology.