Looking down Market Street in San Francisco

Security on public WiFi tends to be either non-existent or a bit of a hassle; it's not fun to track down passwords just so that you can get online from the street corner. If you frequently visit downtown San Francisco, though, it's now a relative breeze. The city has launched a new version of its public WiFi that uses the Hotspot 2.0 standard to give you an encrypted connection with a minimum of fuss. So long as you're using a recent platform (newer Android devices as well as iOS 7, OS X Mavericks and Windows 8), you only have to install a simple profile to get going instead of putting in some credentials.

The service is still limited to the same footprint as San Francisco's recent WiFi network, which runs along Market Street between Castro Street and the Embarcadero. However, it's potentially significant as one of the first city-scale uses of simple-yet-secure WiFi. Typically, you won't see Hotspot 2.0 unless you visit specific places (think airports), and you may still need to subscribe to an internet service like Boingo or Time Warner Cable. San Francisco's deployment takes the guesswork out of it -- you can stay online throughout a large urban area knowing that others can't easily snoop on your activity.

[Image credit: Scott Loftesness, Flickr]