Last fall, Facebook selectively began beta testing a new feature within its mobile app that pinpointed local free Wi-Fi hot spots. Now, the social network has announced the feature will soon roll out to all users around the world.
The “Find WiFi” function can be found via the menu options in the Facebook app. The platform will then prompt you to set your location access for the app to “always.” The feature essentially lists free and public Wi-Fi locations, and highlights them on a map, providing you directions to your chosen place, reports The Next Web. The feature will be available on both iOS and Android versions of the Facebook app.
Facebook has been experimenting with similar features for a few years now, starting with a “Wi-Fi for check-ins” partnership in conjunction with Cisco’s Meraki routers. The program allowed businesses to offer up their wireless internet to the public in exchange for check-ins on a Facebook Page. The project was later expanded in partnership with Netgear. The new “Find WiFi” function could therefore be built upon the existing framework Facebook has in place.
The benefits for businesses are relatively straightforward: People seeking free internet will travel to your location, where they may be tempted into spending real cash on your services. Since Facebook first introduced the feature, more and more locations have opted in.
With Facebook actively promoting its Live video service, and boasting of a major shift toward the format in the next five years, it realizes the data drain the strategy could have on its users’ devices. Consequently, helping people discover public Wi-Fi spots could be one way to make sure people can stay connected (and stay live-streaming).
It could also be utilized in emerging nations and rural areas where connectivity is poor and data can prove costly. We already know that Facebook is testing free video downloads in India, which generally require a stable Wi-Fi connection to work. Additionally, better connectivity could prove a boon for the Facebook Lite app, which is only available in non-Western markets.
Update: Added news that Facebook is expanding Find WiFi to all mobile app users worldwide.