I’m looking for an overseas public free wifi service finder app, particularly with its use in Europe in mind.
These apps often encourage you to share the wifi access credentials to your own routers, which they say will be stored securely in the cloud. This access-sharing scheme is in principle similar to what Fon used to do. The difference is that Fon never asked for your personal wifi acccess credentials; instead, they provided dedicated routers, which had a pre-baked guest account, and enforced restrictions on the guests’ use. I think sharing your wifi passwords with others is a whole lot more dangerous, and there has been a major leakage ( “Security researcher discovers hotspot finder app with leaks” ).
Thankfully, sharing your wifi access credentials is usually not a must with recent apps — otherwise I would not even consider using them. Another feature of recent apps I liked was the ability to download hotspot-location maps in advance, so you can try to find a hotspot near you even when you do not have Internet access.
With those in mind, I looked at the following:
- Wiman — provides an Android app only, called “Free WiFi” — amazingly generic and inconspicuous name. The company was founded in Italy.
- Instabridge — provides an Android app and an iOS app. According to the Google Play Store descriptions of the developers, they are from Sweden.
I checked their maps of a randomly selected place in Italy, and the results were surprisingly different — Wiman showed far more hotspots (see screenshots). It may have something to do with the fact that it is developed by those in Italy. Looks like Wiman is the winner. Neither Wiman nor Instabridge allowed me to download these specific maps, though.
Addendum (4/24/20): Wiman appears to let you download wifi maps for offline use, but when I tried to download one for Rome, Italy, it failed (see the image). It’s a bad sign when a made-in-Italy map app fails to acquire a map for its capital…
Neither Wiman not Instabridge offers additional security by VPN. This is in stark contrast with TownWiFi, which is mostly for the Japanese audience (See “Free Public Wifi Services in Japan” for more on TownWifi).
I tried WiFi Map too, but I got fed up with the obnoxious amount of ads they threw in there. Plus you need to be a paid member to able to download maps. Supposedly provide a VPN service too (probably just for paid members), so it could potentially be a one-stop solution, though.
I read the following articles for reference:
You’d want to utilize a VPN service in conjunction with a public wifi service (see “Android端末で公衆Wifi使用時VPNを併用“).