Foursquare, and most of the apps built on top of the location service’s developer platform, are great for exploring the physical world for entertainment. But a new iPhone app called 4sqwifi (download here) offers something that could help those of us who need to be productive remotely — a way to see nearby wifi locations, and the passwords to go with them.
Those of you who have been stuck needing to send an urgent work email while experiencing poor smartphone data reception will understand why this app is useful.
Yes, there are a bunch of other web sites and apps that try to help people find nearby wifi locations. All the ones I’ve seen have had various shortcomings, like outdated or incomplete databases, and no passwords. 4sqwifi solves this problem by finding Foursquare venues near to the user, then searching user tips related to getting WiFi connections (“free wifi,” “wifi password is…” etc.).
After downloading the app from the App Store, you log in with your Foursquare ID and see a list of all of the nearby venues. Click on any of the listings and you’ll see the name of the WiFi connection and its password. (Note that the app had some page-loading problems initially, although I got it to work.)
The team behind the app is a pair of young Greek entrepreneurs, Apostolos Papadopoulos and Giannis Poulakas. Apostolos tells me he got the idea while a senior in high school last winter, but had to finish his university exams before getting started over the summer. He’s going to school in Vienna now, and is continuing to develop the service. The app is currently free, but the team is exploring business models like an in-app payment for an offline map of all of the wifi locations and passwords within a city.
He also just posted a few thoughts on launching the app, which you can check out here.