Yesterday we released the first major upgrade to Devicescape. We racked our brains for ages and consulted the finest creative minds to come up with an appropriate name for the release, and after much argument settled on “Devicescape 2.0”. Very creative! Internally the codename was “Instant Access” or as many Devicescapers ended up abbreviating: “IA”.
Whenever companies announce new products they often seem to say something like this being the results of lots of feedback from users or customers. Not to repeat the cliche, but that’s definitely been the case for us. When we launched Devicescape in its 1.0 form, we required the user to create an account at our website and then register their devices with us. They then had to select the networks they wanted to use, including their commercial accounts and any free networks in the system.
That seemed like a good idea at the time, but quite quickly things got out of hand. It just became too tedious to go through all that process, and as the number of networks in our system escalated we started hearing consistent comments and suggestions. We heard:
- Can you make this work straight “out of the box?”
- Can you make this useful for the free Wi-Fi user, since many of us don’t have commercial accounts?
- Can I enter my Wi-Fi account info directly on the device instead of having to go to your website in advance?
- You’ve got a big list of free hotspots now. Can you make it that I get them automatically without having to go add them at the website?
- Can you connect me to open, unsecured networks and maybe let me know that I’ve got a connection?
So, this is exactly what Instant Access is all about. If you install our client (or buy a device with Devicescape installed….watch this space for news!) we’ll actually create an anonymous account for you behind the scenes. No trips to the website or PIN codes. Then, we’ll automatically log you in to any of the free hotspots we know about, should you encounter them in the field. We’ll also check any open networks that we can see, and probe them until we find one that has a true internet connection available. Then, guess what, we’ll let you know that you’re all set, by popping up a message or playing a sound (hereby to by known as “The Much Disliked Devicescape Sound”). This open network stuff is a little controversial so you can choose – on the device – whether you want to enable it or not.
Oh, and if you do have a commercial account or login details for your university network or whatever, you can enter them directly on the device and we’ll use it for all future logins. This is useful to get started with a new service provider, or even to enter a voucher if you’re traveling.
Finally, if you do decide to register, you’ll see your device and network details all setup and ready to go. Registration gets you the capability to add and share personal networks, as well as consolidate all your devices under one account.
There are a host of other enhancements in IA, which we’re hoping will make the whole experience more useful, and we thank all our members for the help and enthusiasm around Devicescape. Not all of these features are available on every device quite yet, particularly on the Apple products since we haven’t been able to hack the APIs, but we’ll clean that up in time.
A lot of work went into this release, so I’d like to thank all the hard working Devicescapers. Well done, team! Now, let’s get started on the next big thing (and maybe this time, let’s pick a better name!)