Microsoft made a big deal of its Data Sense feature included in Windows Phone 8. It’s a good feature, as carriers put more draconian data caps on our plans at the same time that our LTE connections mean we pull more data. Plus, the Live Tile interface threatens to pull more data than competing platforms. We just got a good sense of the most major Data Sense feature: Microsoft is working with Devicescape to power WiFi maps in in its Data Sense app built into Windows Phone 8. Devicescape maintains a crowdsourced map of 11 million free and public hotspots and it uses user data to sift out the bogus and bad ones. The company calls this process “curation.” With Windows Phone 8 integrated, there’ll be a whole lot more data to make the map more useful. Great! The bummer? You’ll still have to connect manually to these free hotspots, so it’s basically a reformatting of information available online elsewhere.
Data Sense also promises to compress webpages to save dat, so it’s not a total wash. Also, it includes a host of other data monitoring features that other platforms already have. The Devicescape partnership is disappointing, because automatically connecting to trusted public hotspots could conceivably save a whole lot of data, but not if you have to search them out and connect manually. Previously, Devicescape worked out a similar deal with Intel for Ultrabook connectivity. The way the promotion with Windows Phone 8 will work is that there will be a button labeled “Wi-Fi Map” in the Data Sense program, and it will show nearby hotspots.
The whole Data Sense app is Verizon-only for now, but hopefully it will be extended to other carriers soon.