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With the iPhone and iPod touch's ability to let you access your email and surf websites with a real web browser rather than some limited mobile browser you'll find on other phones, most likely one of the first things you want to do with your phone or iPod touch is to get online. Both iPhone and iPod touch can connect to Wi-Fi networks whether they are home networks, or public networks at coffee shops or airports. Although the iPhone can also get online via AT&T's 3G and EDGE networks in the US, connecting to a broadband connection over Wi-Fi is going to be a much faster internet experience. Let's start by taking a look at how to turn on your iPhone or iPod touch's Wi-Fi capability.
Tap the Settings icon to open your system settings, then tap Wi-Fi. First, make sure that Wi-Fi is turned on. Under Choose a Network, you'll see a list of all the Wi-Fi networks your phone or iPod detects, along with an indicator of how strong each one's signal is, and whether the network is open or requires a password. Password-protected Wi-Fi networks have a lock icon next to them. It generally won't find too many none password-protected Wi-Fi networks these days as most people have figured out that leaving their networks open can expose them to attacks or just neighbors leeching off their internet connection's bandwidth.
Tap the network you want to connect to. If a password is required, enter it here. That's pretty much all there is to connecting to a Wi-Fi network. Your iPhone or iPod touch will now remember this network, so the next time you're within range of it, it will connect automatically without you having to select it and enter the password again. Because being connected to a Wi-Fi network consumes battery power, the iPhone and iPod touch don't remain constantly connected. So you don't have to worry about Wi- Fi eating up your battery while you're looking at photos or listening to music. It's when you start an app that requires an internet connection, like the Safari web browser or Mail that your device will then attempt to reconnect to a Wi-Fi network.
First, the iPhone or iPod touch will look for a nearby Wi-Fi network. If it detects one you've connected to in the past, it will connect with no prompting from you. If it detects any new Wi-Fi networks you've never connected to, you'll see a message pop up with a list of the networks it's found, and ask if you want to connect to any of them. If you see one you recognized or have the password for, tap it and you'll be connected. You know you're connected to a Wi-Fi network when you see the Wi-Fi icon at the top of your screen. Now, the iPod touch can only connect to the internet over Wi-Fi and has no other connection options.
If the iPhone fails to find a Wi-Fi signal, or if you declined to connect to any that it finds, it will then connect to the internet via your service provider's cellular network. So the iPhone does have alternate, albeit slower options available if no wireless signals are to be found. As you can see, connecting to a Wi-Fi network is pretty simple, but there are a lot of other important things to know about how the iPhone and iPod touch deal with Wi-Fi networks. So be sure to check out the movie on Wi-Fi in the chapter called Important Settings. In that movie, I go over some crucial information that will help you troubleshoot when you inevitably run into problems with connecting to a Wi-Fi network.
But, for now, I just wanted to make sure you understand the basics of connecting to a network from your iPhone or iPod touch.
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