If you’ve ever had problems logging on to a friend’s WiFi connection at their home (I think the password is written down on the bottom of the router or something…take a look…) then you’ll love anything that can make it instantly easy to access wireless connections in those situations.
Which makes Instabridge a potentially huge winner. The free Android app lets you share your WiFi password with the click of a button, so that anyone visiting you can log on to your home or office wireless network and access the Internet with no hassles at all. The software works via email addresses in your contact list (and Facebook of course) and adding a new friend is as easy as running through your address book and selecting a name.
But there are other uses apart from just giving fast access to your home Internet to visitors. You can also set it up to share your Internet connection with friends, and friends of friends, which makes it an instant peer to peer WiFi network. So if for example you visit a cafe which offers Net access, you can immediately share a single connection with your friends at the table, so only one of you has to pay for it. Now whether this is legally or morally acceptable is one thing, but it’s definitely very useful, especially if you’re a broke student.
There are a couple of annoying bits. First, we’ve never been great fans of any application which pushes Facebook into your face in order to work. We prefer to have more open options, and although it’s not mandatory to use Facebook, it’s very prominent on the screen. We’re also not that keen when apps force us to add other people before some feature opens up, it just seems a little spammy. In this case you can’t access the Instabridge ‘community’, which we assume is the network of ad hoc hot spots created by users, without adding at least 3 friends of your own or sharing your own network openly.
To be fair this is probably in place to stop nasty spamming leechers, and so we’re nit picking, but it seems a little counter intuitive to firewall one of your coolest features in this way without at least giving people an idea of what they’re missing. Even a view-only trial time (with no direct access) would seem a better option to us.
Those quibbles aside, this is a nice little product, and while there are alternatives for sharing out there like the WiFiAnywhere app, this is the first one we’ve found which offers such an easy simple interface for all of the functions. We also like the ability to share password access instantly between multiple devices though, it makes adding tablets or other new devices to your network trivially easy again. As long as they run Android of course.
One big thing to note is that if you add your home WiFi to Instabridge in order to share with your friends, it remains on the database until you physically email the company to remove it. There’s no way to remove it yourself, which could be a privacy issue for some people.