Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Devicescape on your mobile

 

This week’s post from Mobile Industry Review.

I’ve been using Devicescape for a while now on my Nokia E51 and it dramatically improves the WiFi user experience. So what is Devicescape? It’s a free application that runs on your mobile device and automatically logs you in to WiFi networks without the need to enter ID and security credentials each time. This includes your own WiFi networks, free hotspots, your subscription hotspots and your friends’ networks, where they’ve agreed to share their network with you. Free networks are automatically available with no need to open a Devicescape account.

The ability to share networks is a unique feature that lets your friends (buddies) use your network without you having to give them your network’s WPA or WEP security details. The risk with handing this information over directly is that you never know where it might end up but Devicescape ensures that you know exactly who has access to your network and you can easily restrict access in the future if you want to. The one thing to remember here is that you must share your network details whilst your friend is connected to the Internet elsewhere so Devicescape can update the authorised networks ready for when the connection is made to your network. By sharing networks with each other you build up a community of networks.

All the family’s PCs use Devicescape to connect to our home network and others. My principal use of Devicescape on my Nokia E51 is to login to WiFi networks for Truphone. I’ve got a number of private WiFi networks plus a subscription service and automatic access to free networks set up in my Devicescape profile. When I move into an available hotspot, Truphone triggers an automatic Devicescape WiFi logon and then Truphone connects. The whole process is seamless and avoids the need to type in security keys on the handset or go through browser logins.

The Devicescape web portal provides a simple dashboard for managing your networks, your devices and your buddies. Changes made via the portal are propagated out to the devices when they update their networks.

There are two acid tests for software for me. Does it do what it says and what’s the support like for technical issues? Devicescape certainly does what it says it will do and better still it does it seamlessly. Devicescape provides support via online forums and when I’ve raised queries via the forums they’ve always been picked up fairly swiftly. The quality of support has been excellent and included new versions of the software to resolve specific issues.

Is there anything missing? I’ve had a number of discussions around the ability to prioritise connections to personal networks. I sometimes have more than one wireless SSID available at home and would like to be able to manage access without removing one from Devicescape. However, because Devicescape is all about providing seamless and cost effective WiFi access, where there are two or more free personal networks available there is no facility to prioritise connections. I’d like to see this implemented in a future release, as an option for users who regularly have simultaneous access to multiple personal networks.

Devicescape currently has versions of the software for the following platforms – Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS X, iPhone and iPod Touch, Windows Mobile, Nokia Tablet, Nokia S60 and Linksys WIP300.

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