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Free app finds Wi-Fi hotspots

(MoneyWatch) It's belaboring the obvious to point out that all of our mobile devices -- laptops, phones and tablets -- thrive on wireless Internet. But finding a hotspot isn't always easy. When you're traveling, for example, you often have to resort to picking the first Starbucks you can find, or peering in storefronts for "free WI-Fi" signs. Here's a better way.

Wi-Fi Finder is a free iOS app that tracks down nearby Wi-Fi.

The app is very easy to use; the first time you start it, just tap Find Public Wi-Fi Near Me, and wait for the resulting map to show you pushpins near your location. From here, it works like any other map-based search app; just tap the pin you want for more info. You can get the address of the location, their contact information (including phone number), driving directions and more. The app reports the SSID of the network as well as whether it's free or paid. If you don't like maps, you can switch to a list view of hotspots as well.

You can filter your search results by criteria like free or paid and by the type of location (such as café or hotel). You can also submit a new hotspot or report a closed one, which will get reflected in the app's data.

Wi-Fi Finder is especially useful for business travelers who find themselves in strange locations and in need of Wi-Fi, but you can also mark favorites, making it easy to get back to specific locations later.

This app is a godsend for anyone with a limited data plan and a need to find a hotspot -- download it today (and especially before your next business trip).

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