Photo by °Florian.
Easy: The Most Likely Places You’ll Find Free Wi-Fi
You can find some free Wi-Fi love at the local public library, McDonald’s, university campus, independent coffee shop or hotel lobby. Not all campuses offer free Wi-Fi though, so give the destination a ring before you hoof it over there only to be disappointed.
Medium: Employ Wi-Fi Scanner Apps and Look-up Tools
Sometimes the built-in scanner on your smartphone or laptop can be too slow or won’t give you all the information you want about area networks. Here are some free apps and tools for scanning and finding free Wi-Fi networks.
Smartphones: iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Android
Your Wi-Fi enabled smartphone can scan for nearby networks using its built-in antenna, but a few apps let you search near your location or another location, too.
On Windows Mobile, WiFiFoFum is available, and as Kevin pointed out, the WeFi app is also available for Android.
Installable applications aside, if you’ve got a smartphone with internet access, several webapps will search an area to help you find a Wi-Fi hotspot for your laptop, including:
Bookmark those in your mobile browser for future reference.
Desperation Level: High
Desperate times call for desperate measures. If your search for Wi-Fi is fruitless—or turning up only security walls—you’ve still got a few options.
First, you can turn your smartphone into a router by tethering to its connection. This isn’t going to give you the fast connection that most public Wi-Fi hotspots will, but it will get your laptop online. Here’s one method for enabling tethering on your iPhone 3.0. Android owners, the PdaNet app tethers your device to your laptop. In fact, PdaNet is a popular tethering app that works on Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Palm OS and iPhone—though you’ll need to jailbreak your iPhone to get it working.
What’s your favourite method, app or search engine for finding free Wi-Fi? Let us know in the comments.
Gina Trapani, Lifehacker’s founding editor, wishes you a neighbourhood blanketed in free Wi-Fi. Her feature Smarterware appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker.