Android Oreo Adds Support for WiFi Passpoint, But Makes it Optional for OEMs

Android Oreo Adds Support for WiFi Passpoint, But Makes it Optional for OEMs

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WiFi Passpoint, launched in 2012 by the WiFi Alliance, is an industry-wide solution to streamline network access to hotspots. It seeks to eliminate the need for users to find and authenticate a network each time they connect to it. In networks that do not support Passpoint, users need to search for and choose a network and request a connection to the access point each time they move from one hotspot to the next. They might even have to re-enter their authentication credentials or re-accept the terms and conditions of usage.

Passpoint, or Hotspot 2.0 as it is often called, addresses this pain point of large hotspot networks. It allows a user to sign on once on the network, and then passes along your credentials along all of the other the hotspots that the network supports when they request it. This allows your mobile device to jump from one hotspot to another in a more seamless fashion as it does away with the need to login once again.

Android Oreo has now officially added in support for WiFi Passpoint. But as per Android 8.0’s compatibility documentation, it leaves it up to OEMs to implement instead of making it a compulsory addition.

If the software does include support for WiFi Passpoint, the OEM does have a few compulsory obligations to fulfill to ensure expected functionality. Passpoint related WifiManager APIs as described in the SDK documentation must be implemented. The OEM must also support IEEE 802.11u standard, specifically related to Network Discovery and Selection, such as Generic Advertisement Service (GAS) and Access Network Query Protocol (ANQP). Conversely, if the device implementation does not include support for WiFi Passpoint, the OEM must ensure that the WifiManager API throws an UnsupportedOperationException.

Official support for WiFi Passpoint is certainly a net positive for the Android experience, even if does not place a strong incentive on the OEM to support it. Here’s hoping that OEMs proactively support the feature out of its usefulness to the end user.