Facebook is selectively rolling out a new feature within its mobile app that pinpoints local free WiFi hotspots.
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 WiFi locations, and highlights them on a map, providing you directions to your chosen place, reports The Next Web. For now, the feature has only been spotted on the Facebook app for iOS.
Facebook has been experimenting with similar features for a few years now, starting with a “WiFi 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.
We reached out to Facebook for a comment, but did not immediately receive a response. It’s unclear at this stage if the feature is limited to certain countries.
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 WiFi spots could be one way to make sure people can stay connected (and stay live-streaming).
It could also be utilized in emerging nations 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 WiFi connection to work. Additionally, better connectivity could prove a boon for the Facebook Lite app, which is only available in non-western markets.