Serengeti: Where your Safari begins

Posted on March 23, 2009

Serengeti IconFor those who hadn’t already found it, Serengeti is a free app from Devicescape that includes the Easy Wi-Fi functionality and streamlines access to the web while in a hotspot that needs a web based login.

How does it work?

Serengeti is a very simple front end to Safari. On the cellular network, or your home Wi-Fi, it runs a quick check that you can connect to the internet, and then launches Safari with your selected home page (a side benefit is that you can now define a home page too).

The magic comes if you are on a hotspot network, like the AT&T one in Starbucks. When Serengeti encounters a hotspot network like that, it will use Devicescape’s Easy Wi-Fi technology to log you in before it launches Safari.

What do I need to use it?

You need two things to use Serengeti:

  1. A free Devicescape Easy Wi-Fi account, which you can sign up for on the web, or directly from the app’s setup screen;
  2. Access to the hotspots you plan to use. Devicescape can handle logging you at lots of commercial networks if you have an account that works for them (e.g. your AT&T iPhone number, which can get you free access at AT&T Wi-Fi locations from your iPhone); it can also get you connected at lots of free networks around the world, such as coffee shops where you normally have to click a button to enable access, and at university networks where there is a web-based log in form. And we’re growing that list all the time!

Can it start other apps?

Some other apps can be started instead of Safari, but not all. Applications that register themselves as a URL handler can be started. That list includes many popular apps like IM clients and Twitter clients, so you can start those by simply changing the Serengeti home page (in the main iPhone Settings app) to the appropriate URL. I use Serengeti to start my favorite Twitter client app, TwitterFon, which can be started using twitterfon:/// as the Serengeti home page.

Why Serengeti?

Serengeti is named after the large grassy plain in Africa that includes the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Maasai Mara Reserve and more. The Serengeti region of Africa is perhaps the world’s most popular destination for safari vacations. So, the Serengeti is where your Safari begins.