Steve Jobs wanted to figure out a way to make free, safe, Wi-Fi sharing a reality, reports Walt Mossberg for Re/code.
Mossberg recounts what Jobs once told him:
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs loved to walk around his neighborhood in Palo Alto, California. And after his pride and joy, the iPhone, was born, he naturally took it along with him on walks. The first iPhone had a lousy, sluggish, cellular-data network, but it also had a much faster data option: Wi-Fi. It even had a feature (still present, but much less touted) that popped up a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks on the screen, so you could always find one in range. But, he once told me, there was a big problem with that technique, one that he wanted to fix: Most of the Wi-Fi networks that popped up on his screen couldn’t be used, because they were secured with passwords.
Jobs knew there was a need for security but wanted to figure out a way to make Wi-Fi sharing free and safe. He even told Mossberg that he planned to get other companies involved, in a consortium of sorts, to make it happen.
Essentially, every router could have a built in ‘guest network’ option that was secure and separate from a users home network. If enough users enabled the option, one would be able to walk around with their smartphone connecting from Wi-Fi hotspot to another, without logging in, similar to how we connect from one cell tower to another.
While the consortium never emerged, Apple and some other companies have built guest networks into their routers. Mossberg discusses some of the other efforts to make Wi-Fi sharing a reality and states, “It’s time the big tech companies solved this problem, so that Wi-Fi sharing and roaming become a reality.”