Wi-Fi network operator The Cloud has launched an automatic sign-on service that it hopes manufacturers will build into phones, portable media players and games consoles.
Called mycloud, the service is aimed at making it easy for wirelessly enabled devices, including laptops, to automatically log into hotspots without much user intervention. The idea is for the user to register once, including credit-card information for paid-for hotspots, then use that hosted information across a range of devices.
The service was launched on Tuesday, but at a preview event last week The Cloud's business-development director, Owen Geddes, claimed mycloud "will become the umbrella for all Wi-Fi across Europe".
Mycloud is based on Devicescape's single-sign-on software. It allows the host device to automatically hook up to any available hotspot, whether free or paid-for, but to do this it requires the participation of a number of hotspot aggregators — hence the presence of The Cloud's rival, iPass, at last week's event.
While laptops and smartphones are obvious targets for the project, The Cloud has also been talking to Nintendo, Sony and Apple — the operator has Wi-Fi deals for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the UK — about getting mycloud preinstalled in wirelessly enabled portable games consoles and media players. The Cloud is trying to make mycloud as contextually aware as possible, said Geddes, with the software suggesting content to the user based on the type of device being used, the location where it is being used and the demographic information fed into the system when the user initially signs up.
Mycloud is also a social network of sorts, in that users can link up their profiles with their friends' profiles, making it possible to share access to home hotspots when those friends are visiting. The service, which is still in beta form, is being opened up first to a select group of The Cloud's customers this month.