Facebook is rolling out a new feature within its mobile app that will help you find the nearest public Wi-Fi networks anywhere in the world. Originally spotted in November
last year as part of a limited test, the feature is now launching for
everyone under the Find WiFi section within the ‘More’ tab.
You might be prompted to turn it on first since it’s not on by
default. Once that’s done you will be able to see a list of the closest
public Wi-Fi hotspots or browse them on a map, then after clicking on
one of them you’ll see more information on the businesses hosting it,
like open hours, what kind of place it is (restaurant, library, etc.),
and the name of their network.
Find WiFi could be useful for people in emerging markets where mobile
data is slow or expensive, as well as people who don’t want to incur
heavy roaming charges when traveling internationally, and otherwise
pretty much anyone that doesn’t want to eat up their data allowance
while using data intensive features like broadcasting through Facebook
This isn’t the first time has experimenting with the idea of
facilitating Wi-Fi access. Two years ago, the company partnered with
Cisco in a pilot program that offered free internet access in
participating businesses in exchange for a check in. It also launched
the controversial Free Basics service, which offers a free but limited
internet access to people who don’t have it.
In this case Facebook isn’t providing Wi-Fi hotspots itself, nor it
is compiling its own map of businesses offering them. Instead it’s
simply letting businesses register their hotspots so they appear under
the new Find WiFi menu in the Facebook mobile app.
The new feature is beginning to roll out everywhere in the world on
iPhone and Android. Keep in mind that enabling Find WiFi also turns on
Facebook’s Location History feature which the social network uses to
gather data it can then use to sell targeted ads.