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Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Devicescape, creating a seamless WiFi layer


Last week I met up with Dave Fraser and Simon Wynn at Devicescape to talk about their plans for the future. I’ve blogged about Devicescape before – it’s a simple software client that manages WiFi connections for mobile devices across private and public WiFi hotspots. It automates the sign-in process using pre-stored security credentials for secure networks and automatically logs on to authorised private and public hotspots. All major WiFi service providers are supported and smaller ones are being added all the time. I’ve been using Devicescape to manage the WiFi connections on my PCs and handsets for over a year now and with about 10 WiFi devices in the family it saves a lot of time and hassle fiddling about with SSIDs and WPA keys!

Devicescape (the company) has been around for three years and has a background in WiFi security products. The company’s vision is to create a seamless WiFi layer to unify the multiplicity of private and public WiFi networks available to users. Approximately 80% of Devicescape users are using Devicescape on a mobile handset and to date most Devicescape users have downloaded the Devicescape client from the website and configured it themselves. However, as Devicescape’s focus is on simplifying the WiFi access process and customer experience, increasingly the client is invisible to the end user. As an example, DeFi uses Devicescape ‘under the bonnet’ to manage WiFi network access; making the whole process transparent to the user.

Devicescape now comes in four ‘flavours’:

• Locked to one operator – OEM selects, user enters a username and password, works on one network and its roaming partners

• Locked to one operator – user selects the network of their choice

• Locked to one operator – operator provisions device, no user setup required, just works

• Unlocked Devicescape client – premium service, enabled by Subscription Service

More and more operators are seeing 3G and WiFi as complementary technologies and Devicescape partners are starting to use the client to load balance across 3G and WiFi networks. To reduce the data overhead on the 3G network, traffic is seamlessly routed over WiFi when available. Because Devicescape automates the WiFi network selection and login process, it creates a seamless user experience.

Is there anything missing from Devicescape? The one piece of functionality I would like to see is the ability for a user to prioritise the order of login to networks on the unlocked client. Prioritisation is currently set by Devicescape and applies to all users. This is based on prioritising the most cost effective networks to use, so it uses your home WiFi before a paid for one. However I’d like to be able to prioritise private access points as I sometimes have more than one running and need to control which is used.

I’ve just had an email from Devicescape confirming that Devicescape is now in the Apple Store so it’ll be going on my son’s new iPod Touch later this week!

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