I'm not the kind of person that finds some subtle jab at Apple around every corner, but today Google and Boingo announced a free Wi-Fi partnership that makes drawing such a conclusion hard to avoid.

Google has sponsored Boingo Wi-Fi a number of times in the past, offering the company's wireless internet in hotels, shopping malls, subways, and airports around the world. Today's deal extends to 4,000 hotspots across the US, including 15 major airports, numerous Manhattan subways, and thousands of other locations. It is also specifically branded as being sponsored by Google Play, not simply Google.

The catch is that, this time, only some devices can use the free service. Google has limited access to laptops (running Windows or OS X) and Android devices. It's almost like they forgot one other important mobile ecosystem. The deal extends through the end of September, so it's a short one, but the "zing!" value is still high.

While the logical argument here is "Well, iOS devices can't utilize Play Store content, so why give them free Wi-Fi sponsored by Google Play?" we're guessing that's kind of the point Google wants to get across: Android comes with benefits. Talk about marketing to the correct demographic all you want, but Google still made the choice to say "Yeah, we don't feel like including iOS on this one." Considering Google-sponsored Boingo access has never been restricted by OS before, that makes it all the more notable a precedent.

Business Wire