Apple iOS 7 supports Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 for next-gen network roaming

iOS7

Apple didn’t get a chance to show every new iOS 7 feature on Monday at its WWDC event, but in typical fashion it did show one presentation slide with additional features. One of those, Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0, was spotted by the eagle-eyed SlashGear team, making Apple’s iOS 7 device lineup among the first to take advantage of the new technology. With it, connecting to and roaming between Wi-Fi networks will become much easier.

iPhone 5 iOS 7 WWDC Apple screenshot phone iOSIf you’re not familiar with the Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 initiative, that’s understandable. It’s a Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) effort that we’ve been watching for the better part of two years. Last year, the WFA began certifying devices for the program and we’ve only recently begun to see the first phones that can use the technology, which is also known as Passpoint. Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 also supports this effort, which makes roaming simple and seamless.

I noted this simplicity last year: No more entering IDs, passwords or searching for network names/SSIDs. When in range of a Hotspot 2.0/Passpoint network, your handset will seamlessly connect to the network. Here’s how the WFA describes it:

“Wi-Fi hotspot access for in-network APs no longer requires an active selection or input from the subscriber. Passpoint uses a consistent interface and automated association process.

Devices can be automatically granted access to the network based on multiple credential types. Passpoint supports Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)–based authentication, widely used in cellular networks today, as well as username/password combinations and certificate credentials. No end-user intervention is required in order to establish a connection to a trusted network.”

Making the connection even better than a standard Wi-Fi link is encryption. That’s a feature that, again, will require no special user configuration and makes the Wi-Fi connection more like a cellular one when it comes to security. And if there are multiple Passpoint networks in close proximity, you can wander around between them and switch seamlessly.

Wifi, Wifi in the City

Users won’t see the feature until iOS 7 is released this fall and even after that, they’ll have to find Passpoint locations to take advantage of it. But as vendors and providers add Wi-Fi Hotspot 2.0 support to their networks, Apple devices running the latest software will be ready to roam.

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