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Last Updated: July 27th, 2012

We all know the scenario: a friend or family member is at your place and needs to connect to the Wi-Fi. At that point, you have a few choices (none of which are ideal): hand them a piece of paper with the network key, tell it to them aloud, or enter it for them.

Wouldn't it be so much easier to let them tap an NFC tag (granted they actually have an NFC-capable phone) or scan a QR code? Dang right it would - and now the process of making that happen in stupid-easy thanks to a new apps called InstaWifi.

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InstaWifi lets you easily share your network information with a simple tap of an NFC tag or scan of a QR code. And it does so with very little hassle to you: fire the app up, enter your network SSID and network key, and either write it to an NFC tag or print a QR code. Done.

It's even easier if you have a rooted handset, too; InstaWiFi will automatically dig into your network settings and pull out all of the information that it needs. Super simple.

It's worth noting that I had some trouble getting the application to work on both my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 when I tried to use the NFC tag (it kept failing authentication while trying to connect to the network). However, Artem got it to work without issue on both his Nexus 7 and EVO LTE. We've reached out to the developer to see what the issue may be (we suspect that it may have something to do with special characters in the network key) and will update when hear something back.

Update: As of version 1.1.0, the aforementioned issue has been taken care of. Everything works like a champ now!

In the meantime, this app is definitely worth checking out. Even if you run into issues like I did, I wouldn't stress too much; up to the point we've had good communication with the developer, so rest assured that a fix will likely be hitting the Store soon.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Michael

    Too bad almost no one has NFC chips

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      So buy one? They're uber cheap. All you need is one - it's not like every guest in your house needs one.

      • Michael

        Sorry I meant on their phone. I have one in my N7 and Gnex but I don't have a single friend that has one.
        Edit: I just remembered I have one friend that has one

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Oh, I see. Yeah, but then there's the QR fallback, and most phones nowadays are getting released with NFC.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      They're getting more popular, and there are several websites that sell NFC stickers now such as tagstand. I also have a donate option in the app if you want a quick hassle-free way of getting NFC sticker(s) shipped to your address.

  • lbrfabio

    strange. sharing the QR Code via gmail or other apps doesn't work.
    It just send a link to the app on the market without the QR Code

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      I have an update coming out that will fix this soon. The next update will fix this issue, sorry about that.

      • lbrfabio

        great!

        • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

          I uploaded it to Google Play about an hour ago but it seems to still be on v1. The change should be in v1.0.1 which hasn't gone live it seems.

  • ERIFNOMI

    This will be awesome when NFC becomes popular.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      In the meantime, the app falls back to QR codes, but yeah. And hey, most new phones are coming out with NFC nowadays.

      • ERIFNOMI

        Yeah but once you've used NFC tags, QR loses all it's fun. Hopefully when NFC enabled phones are common, this will be built into Android.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      Over 1 million NFC-enabled Android smartphones are being activated every week. They announced that at Google I/O this year and we can only see the trend continue to rise as more and more newer phones are coming NFC-enabled.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        They never said those were all NFC-enabled, did they?

      • ERIFNOMI

        That may be true, but don't expect everyone to have one for 2 years. After all, that's about how often people upgrade.

        I understand how awesome NFC can be, I have a galaxy Nexus, but no one I personally know has an NFC capable phone.

  • http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio royblumenthal

    The QR code tool is awesome. But I would love to know if it makes my password visible to my visitor. I'd very much prefer it if the app created a stand alone guest account with a different password and fewer privileges.

    • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

      If your router supports it, you can create another SSID for guests and even relegate them to a different subnet. If your router doesn't support that, see if you can install DD-WRT on it.

      • http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio royblumenthal

        Thanks, John. This is something I haven't looked into before. Will delve into the innards of my router. Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      The QR generator does not show the password to your visitor IF they scan it with the supported Barcode Scanner app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.zxing.client.android). The user will only be prompted to connect to the network as you can see in the video.

      If they scan it with an unsupported barcode scanner app, then yes, they will see your password. In order to have guest accounts with different passwords, those needs to be done on the router-side and can't be done via a smartphone.

      • http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio royblumenthal

        Awesome, Jesse! Your app is magical. Thankyou.

      • http://wave-france.blogspot.com Supercopter

        Could Google Goggles at one point be supported like Barcode Scanner currently is? (I don't see anymore the point of having a dedicated barcode scanner app installed since Goggles is much more versatile.)

  • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

    The all important question: Can a user without the app installed tap the NFC chip and connect to wifi or do they need to install the app first?

    That's the problem with these apps - the other person needs to install the app first. But before they can get connected to the wifi they're not on the network, so they can't download it. Even with a mobile data connection the need to install an app makes it more of a hassle than just telling them the password.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah, they need the app - if you don't have it installed, it launches the Play Store and goes to InstaWiFi's page. So you can't use it if you don't have a connection and don't yet have it installed. This type of functionality needs to be built into Android to work out of the box.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      For the QR codes, the user does not need InstaWifi installed. The user needs the Barcode Scanner app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.zxing.client.android) to scan the code that InstaWifi generates.

      For the NFC part, yes the user will need to have InstaWifi installed. Tapping on a InstaWifi configured NFC sticker should launch the play store link so that will at least reduce the friction and hassle.

      • Elias

        It's a pity that have someone download the app without being connected to wifi is not very practical, specially if this person does not have a data plan or if cellphone reception in your home is not good. Guess I'll stick to the qr code (which also demands an app to be read, but it's more likely people will already have it)

  • fixxmyhead

    did u guys 'steal' this article from droid life?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I'll let the developer of InstaWiFi tell you how long I've been in touch with him about this app.

      • fixxmyhead

        ok just checking cuz i saw it there first

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          And that must mean we stole it, right?

          • fixxmyhead

            well if u look at it from my POV yea,not that i care i was just saying but come on all the blogs always borrow articles one from another

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      Artem is correct. I have been in touch with him since last week regarding the launch of InstaWifi. AndroidPolice did not steal this article from droid life :)

  • mduran1023

    Dang, how cool would this be if it was built into Android Beam?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      If you watched the video, you will see that the app does support Android Beam. Simply tap two phones together and the other phone will connect automatically.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Brilliant.

      • mduran1023

        Allow me to clarify: I feel that this functionality should be built into stock Android (and therefore into Android Beam, rather than just setup to work with it).

        In other words, Google should hire you : ) (assuming that they haven't already, 'cause I don't really know much about ya)

        • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

          Haha totally agree with you.

          Unfortunately I just started work at Facebook so that sounds...unlikely. :P

          • ERIFNOMI

            Don't lie, you'd leave Facebook to work at Google in a heartbeat. There isn't a sane person in the world that wouldn't.

  • De-Mentor

    I would like to know where I can buy NFC chips like the one you have in the video
    thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

    Hi guys, InstaWifi developer here. Feel free to ask me any questions or feedback that you guys have. Thanks!

    • Doug Mayo

      Hey! Just wondering if you guys will make your app write a tag that will write a static handover tag that pushes the wifi data directly to the phone (without having to install an app on the client)? From what I've read of the nfc forum papers, it seems plausible, but can't find an app that will do the trick. I'd pay for one, since I'm not quite smart enough to code it myself.

    • HellG

      I have a note 2, May i know why the app is not compatible with my phone?

  • Aki I.

    looks like a good app. the problem it solves is definitely real and common. it would be nice if the app icon was a little different though. i thought this was going to be an article about wifi tether. just nit pickin.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      @google-da4ab94c1422008762e60b2ffcdf523b:disqus , thanks for the feedback. Do you have any good suggestions on what the icon should look like? I'm not a designer so this was my first time creating an icon. Happy to hear your thoughts.

      • http://wave-france.blogspot.com Supercopter

        I'm not a designer either but here is a (poorly executed) idea mock-up:
        http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9658021/InstaWiFi.png

        The idea is to show that the WEP/WPA key is "beamed" to the device...

        • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

          Whoa thanks for the mock @supercopter:disqus. That definitely gives it a clearer picture of what InstaWifi does. I'll make sure to keep this in mind. Thanks!

          • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

            Great app dude. I previously used Wifi QR Generator to do this but yours has NFC which is far more convenient. :)

            As for the icon, I suggest some icon that shows a wifi logo and a QR code, like Wifi QR Generator's icon. No offense to @supercopter:disqus (great mock up!) but that icon looks like the app is used to unlock your phone with some sort of special key. :-

            Anyways...keep up the good work! Would love to see the root-only feature of grabbing WiFi passwords from the phone to be available to non-root users as it would make my life easier (my password is a pain to type, it's C5!+r`9a%HP`Dve~:D+O@5znqh/*Lb{*O!o_P'E)#nS4~nk6S%8D^s!EjG~y-Kq) but I can understand if that's something that absolutely needs root. :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

            Thanks @karasuhebi:disqus. Unfortunately that feature requires root in order to work due to technical limitations. That password looks hellish to type and I think you are the ideal person to have InstaWifi so that your visitors don't need to type that ridiculous password! I hope it isn't your real pw either ;)

      • Aki I.

        im not much of a designer either but Supercopter's icon looks like a great start

  • Phillip

    I guess this fails if the password contains a semicolon. In my case, the generated QR code wifi password was truncated at the semicolon and anything else past it. I'm guessing this is a limitation of the QR code spec and not necessarily your app?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      @0681fd59f0b55030d07e76326b8c9b0d:disqus thanks for reporting the issue! I didn't consider special characters like semicolons and as a result its not working properly for passwords with those characters in them. I will have an update out that will fix this by tomorrow. Thanks once again for reporting the issue!

  • Ashish Raj

    Hey Jesse.. not sure if you call this a bug or not but found something:
    I mistakenly (fat fingers) clicked on the pen/pencil icon on top instead of the share donate icon; it pops up a message asking to enable wifi (if my wifi is not ON)..& the only option for me is to enable the wifi OR exit out of the app completely!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jesselchen Jesse Chen

      @ashish_raj:disqus oh that is a pretty bad bug. I'll have it fixed it in the next few days, keep a look out for an update that will fix that soon! Thank you so much for reporting the bug.

  • bethcwhitehorn

    Start working at home with Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail

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  • Eoghan

    I have not used the app discussed here but I am sure it is good. Speaking for myself, I don't like sharing the password at all and the QR code still contains it in an easy to get way because most barcode scanner apps will literally display it. And in all honesty I have three routers due to my weird shaped home each with complicated passwords.

    I personally use an older version of the Wand Alpha app on Android - I think the new one is still free but is now called Wand Share. The wifi card in it lets me share with other android folks without revealing the password and i can revoke it whenever I want. The revoke does not always remove the connection depending on type of their phone but it makes sure that no other of their devices can use it. They need to install the app to get it but can uninstall right after if they don't want it. I share it with other family members the same way except one who is on iOS. In this day and age I shouldnt have to remember passwords ;-)