The days of unlimited data are long gone, making it important for smartphone owners to use free WiFi where possible in an effort to limit overages and maximize data offered by their plans. There are a number of apps that help locate free hotspots, but they don’t do much to help with the login process. According to Engadget, a new Google WiFi app is being tested for iOS and Android that will automatically log users into free public hotspots including those available at Starbucks. The search engine giant is testing the app at Google headquarters.
While still early in the testing process, Google might partner with Starbucks in a marketing effort to offer customers ‘Google Starbucks’ hotspots where connections occur automatically. The current process, similar to other public hotspots, requires customers open up a web browser and agree to terms. If a customer has an existing Google account, it would pre-authorize and authenticate the device.
Engadget notes that Google offered free WiFi in 2006 in Mountain View, but the company struggled to keep up with the bandwith in the age of tablets and smartphones. The increased demand forced the company to require a login with an authorized Google account.
While some WiFi public hotspots allow connections, many retailers such Starbucks and McDonald’s require agreement to terms and conditions before gaining access. If Google moves forward with the WiFi app, it would likely rollout with support for Starbucks and their network of 7,000 stores. No word on whether other retailers would sign on.