Wi-Fi now has version numbers, and Wi-Fi 6 comes out next year (The Verge)

In the past, Wi-Fi versions were identified by a letter or a pair of letters that referred to a wireless standard. The current version is 802.11ac, but before that, we had 802.11n, 802.11g, 802.11a, and 802.11b. It was not comprehensible, so the Wi-Fi Alliance — the group that stewards the implementation of Wi-Fi — is changing it.


All of those convoluted codenames are being changed. So instead of the current Wi-Fi being called 802.11ac, it’ll be called Wi-Fi 5 (because it’s the fifth version).

I would have prefered dated versioning. I think that version year makes it contextly clearer whether a WI-Fi system needs replacing or not. If I see "Wi-Fi Version 5", I may not know if that is the most current version of several years old. But when I talk about my 2006 Honda Accord, it is quite clear I am driving an older car. Still, this is better than trying to understand if 802.11ac is newer than 802.11a or 802.11g etc.

This summer, my family and I are travelling to the Outer Banks, North Carolina for some much-needed rest and recuperation. It's a long drive and music makes it easier. On long trips, I normally stream my playlist from iTunes Watch. However, we recently lowered our data plan and the NC trip is almost 10 hours. I needed another solution.

My first thought was that I could load up an old iPod nano with music for playback via my audio system Lightning connector or Bluetooth. But I soon realized that this created a new problem. I use my iPhone with mapping software that provides turn-by-turn directions when travelling. The iPhone also connects to the car via the Lightning connector or Bluetooth. Whenever I need to make a turn the mapping software interrupts the audio of my iPhone. Problem is that only one device can use the Lightning connector or Bluetooth.

I could either get driving directions and stream music via iTunes Watch and chew up my limited data plan. Or I could skip directions, save my data plan, and playback music via an iPod nano. But I wanted both.

Today, I remembered I had Western Digital Passport Wireless hard drive. The Passport can serve as a wireless access point (WAP) and media access hub and is powered via a standard USB connector. The Passport acts as a wireless access point (WAP) to which the iPhone can connect. I can dump music, photos and movies to folders on the Passport, then with the provided iOS app, wirelessly stream that content to my iPhone. My kids can connect and stream music and movies to their iPhone and iPad while we drive down the high way.

The Passport can also connect to an existing WAP and act as a gateway to the Internet for any connected device. So I configured the Passport to use the hotspot feature of my wife's iPhone. This provided the Passport with access to the Internet. Then I connected my iPhone to the Passport. Though the Passport, my iPhone can get access to the Internet for driving directions but also has access to stream all the music I stored on the hard drive in the Passport.

I will test this setup this July before our trip but I am excited that I found a way. The Passport also has an SD card reader. Insert an SD card and it will automatically copy my images to the hard drive. It's a portable backup for our family vacation photos.

Om Malik has started a new blog called Web Worker Daily. One of his postings is a short list of Wi-Fi enabled cafes on the west coast of the USA. I decided to start a similar list for the Princeton, NJ area where I live.

Local cafes can provide a strong dose of caffeine, free WiFi, and power to help you write, code, or troubleshoot. The best cafes have comfortable tables, quality coffee and espresso, and talented baristas. - Om Malik

I am listing the free one's only.

  • Princeton University, Firestone Library

    • One Washington Road Princeton NJ 08544

  • Panera Bread Princeton

    • 136 Nassau Street Princeton NJ 08542

  • Whole Foods Market

    • US Route 1 South Princeton NJ 08540

  • Panera Bread West Windsor

    • 510 Nassau Park Boulevard Princeton NJ 08540

  • Orpha's Coffee Shop

    • 1330 Us Highway 206, Skillman, NJ 08558

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