In Praise of the iPhone Coffeespot App and Starbucks Wi-Fi

It’s nice when things just work. And when you’re on the road, Wi-Fi is one of those things you really appreciate. I’ve posted before about how well Marriott supports travelers with wi-fi. This brief note is as positive as that one was, but has a few more moving parts. It’s about using Coffeespot, a lovely little iPhone app, to find a Starbucks, and about finding a connection when I got there.

Not much more to it than that. If you have a Starbucks card, and I went for it pretty early on, you’re entitled to two hours a day of free Wi-Fi use. Of course, there are other ways to do this – one of my favorites is the local public library, and in the Valley there are many really pleasant ones with Wi-Fi. In this case, I was in a neighborhood I don’t frequent, and had 90 minutes till my next meeting. And I was certainly ready for a hot beverage in a pleasant location with some electrons and an internet connection on the side.

That’s where Coffeespot came in – a quick touch on the screen, it read my location with the iPhone GPS and showed me where the nearest coffee places (not Starbucks only) might be, and then when I picked one, mapped me to it. 5 minutes later I was logged in – and making productive use of my time by writing this blog post, listening to the awesome remastered Beatles CDs. It only seemed fair to write this and recommend all the participants in this tale of success. Happy travels out there.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

9 Responses to In Praise of the iPhone Coffeespot App and Starbucks Wi-Fi

  1. Julian Hyde says:

    iPhone tethering means that you don’t need the wifi. However, you do need the electrons (or rather the EMF that pushes the electrons through your laptop and USB cord) because a tethered iPhone seems to slurp juice. And, it can’t do anything about the coffee.

    By the way, tethering is still a ‘not officially supported feature’ — you might say a hack, although it doesn’t require anything as extreme as a jailbreak — and I’ve heard that OS 3.1 disables it. So, hold off on upgrading to 3.1 until Apple/AT&T ‘clarify’ their support for tethering, or someone gets the hack working again.

    My favorite iPhone app of the day: Public Radio Tuner. I was able to take the boy for a walk to the coffee shop this morning and carry on listening to NPR. Unfortunately the tuner isn’t able to fast forward over the pledge drives.

    Julian

  2. Merv, I’m just curious, exactly how much a month does all this iPhone/AT&T stuff cost anyway when you total it up?
    Thanks.

  3. If you’re a Bell Internet customer here in Canada, you’re also entitled to free WiFi at Starbucks ( 3 hours, I think ). Here’s the steps I took to set it up on my iPod touch: http://wholemap.com/blog/bell-starbucks-wifi-canada

  4. I think that iPhone users now have free, unlimited WiFi at any ATT Hotspot, including Starbucks. The WiFi settings in iPhone 3+ just automagically connects you.

    Oh, and I still prefer Tully’s when in your neck of the woods and Los Gatos Coffee Roasting in the South Bay 😉

  5. Merv Adrian says:

    I’m pursuing wordpress about a hitch in the Respond function in the Comment approval dialogue, so pardon me for thanking all four of you in a single response. Thanks, all, for being part of the conversation – it’s always a pleasure. In reverse order:

    Joe – I like Tully’s a lot, but they are not as ubiquitous – they do show up in Coffeespot, though.
    David – thanks for providing the info for our Candaian readers – good to know when I’m in Ottawa next week I’m covered!
    Jerome – I’m paying about 125 bucks a month for phone, data and text. Use ’em all. A lot. All are unlimited in my plan.
    Julian – I haven’t hacked the iPhone at all. Maybe I’m just a wimp. But the Public Radio Tuner sounds like a winner. I’ll go find that one! Thanks.

  6. Kim Dossey says:

    Merv,

    I thought I heard that there was an app like this and I’m so excited to try it…being the total Starbucks junkie that I am! Thanks so much for posting this!

  7. Merv Adrian says:

    Kim, you never know what will catch people’s eye. I’m glad this caught yours. I try to mix topics up a bit, and I’m always happy at the surprises I get in the responses.

  8. Rob Paller says:

    Thanks for the Coffespot recommendation. I will definitely check it out.
    For what it is worth, Last.fm is one of my favorite apps on the iPhone. I have yet to install any music on my phone after installing this application. Pandora is another popular music streaming application, but I prefer the social aspects of Last.fm.

  9. Merv Adrian says:

    Thanks for that, Rob – I have so much in iTunes (nearly 14K songs) that I usually just make a playlist or two for when I’m planning to be in the car and hook it up. But I have used Pandora a bit. I’ll check Last.fm out too!

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