Wi-Fi Aware

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Aware extends Wi-Fi® capability with quick discovery, connection, and data exchange with other Wi-Fi devices—without the need for a traditional network infrastructure, internet connection, or GPS signal. Wi-Fi Aware provides rich here-and-now experiences by establishing independent, peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connections based on a user’s immediate location and preferences.

Social interaction uses

  • Connect with people nearby to play a favorite game on mobile devices
  • Enable a friend in the vicinity to simultaneously hear songs being played on a user’s device
  • Find friends at a concert and share photos or coordinate a place to meet

Business uses

  • Securely send a document to a printer without first logging onto the network
  • View a restaurant menu and make a reservation while walking by without an internet connection, even when the restaurant is closed

Educational uses

  • Bring enhanced educational experiences to students visiting a museum, art-gallery, and field trips
  • Automate and timestamp school check-ins and roll-call

Emerging uses

  • Enable autonomous and remote-controlled vehicles to instantly become aware of other devices and automatically exchange information such as GPS coordinates, altitude, direction, and owner ID
  • Streamline airport security, customs, and immigration processing flows using mobile identification (ID) such as a driver’s license or passport without requiring travelers to present a physical ID

Wi-Fi Aware enriches personalized mobility experiences

Wi-Fi Aware leverages the spontaneous nature of user proximity to enable innovative applications. Wi-Fi Aware devices continuously discover other devices within a user’s Wi-Fi range prior to association, making it easy to find nearby information and services that match preferences set by the user. This technology enables truly personalized social, local, and mobile experiences, helping users to get the most out of their mobile devices, even in crowded environments.

Key features

  • Continuous, power efficient device-to-device discovery using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Low Energy radios prior to association—even without a GPS, cellular, or infrastructure connection
  • Multi-directional sharing of services or information simultaneously
  • Dynamic connectivity, enabling groups of devices connected through Wi-Fi Aware to maintain their connection even if one device moves out of range
  • Works well indoors and in crowded environments
  • Efficient device-to-device communication supporting both native and IP-based data exchange; each data stream is associated with a specific application or service
  • User-based control of privacy, enabling user opt-in or opt-out of identity disclosure through the device operating system or application
  • Wi-Fi Aware™: Discover the world nearby
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Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is Wi-Fi Aware?

    Wi-Fi Aware incorporates capabilities enhancing peer-to-peer communications by enabling devices to exchange information and services without the need for network infrastructure or sophisticated setup processes. Within Wi-Fi Aware networks, connections are contextually formed, creating a simple data exchange mechanism based on shared user preferences.​

  • How do users experience Wi-Fi Aware?

    Wi-Fi Aware mobile device experiences are application-driven; and users can control privacy settings and opt-in to desired notifications. Users can configure an application to offer and/or seek services on nearby devices.  

  • What is the range in which Wi-Fi Aware operates?

    Wi-Fi Aware operates at typical Wi-Fi range.

  • What is the Wi-Fi Alliance specification underlying Wi-Fi Aware?

    Wi-Fi Aware is a certification program based on the Wi-Fi Alliance Neighbor Awareness Networking Technical Specification.

  • Will Wi-Fi Aware drain the battery on my mobile device?

    Wi-Fi Aware was designed to be power efficient by establishing independent networked “clusters” synchronized to a common “heartbeat” to exchange small messages about services available nearby. Continuous discovery occurs in the background without putting undue burden on the battery of a mobile device.

  • On what frequency bands does Wi-Fi Aware operate?

    Wi-Fi Aware operates in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Discovery occurs in the 2.4 GHz band, channel 6 (discovery in 5 GHz is optional).

  • Can my device be updated to support Wi-Fi Aware?

    Many devices can receive updates to support Wi-Fi Aware. Whether a device can receive software updates to add the new functionality or not depends upon vendor implementation. Native support for Wi-Fi Aware is available in the Android O (and later) operating system.

  • What is the relationship between Wi-Fi Aware and Wi-Fi Direct?

    Wi-Fi Aware is a similar peer-to-peer connectivity technology to Wi-Fi Direct. However, while Wi-Fi Direct requires a centralized coordinator, called a Group Owner, Wi-Fi Aware creates decentralized, dynamic peer-to-peer connections. Many applications, such as Miracast and direct printer connections, work well with Wi-Fi Direct. Wi-Fi Aware is positioned to provide peer-to-peer connectivity in highly mobile environments, where devices join or leave in a less deterministic manner. Whether it's professionals at a crowded conference to find each other or strangers on a subway momentarily joining a multi-player game, Wi-Fi Aware connections seamlessly adapt to changing environment and usage conditions. 

  • What is the difference between Wi-Fi Aware and Wi-Fi Location?

    Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Location™ is used for determining device location within a network by finding and connecting to access points, whereas Wi-Fi Aware is about connecting directly to other devices to publish and advertise information and services without an access point. Wi-Fi Location™ and Wi-Fi Aware can be utilized for similar uses, such as geo-fencing or personalized shopping, but Wi-Fi Location is meant to operate within Wi-Fi infrastructure to deliver precise location determination. Wi-Fi Aware is focused on connecting devices within an area of proximity without a network infrastructure.

  • Why use Wi-Fi Aware over other connectivity technologies?

    Wi-Fi Aware has a longer range than other commonly used technologies. Proximity-based applications are more useful when the connection allows for a longer range. Additionally, once connected, devices can leverage the high-performance, fast speeds, and a high level of security that Wi-Fi delivers. The latest enhancements to Wi-Fi Aware also offer discovery by Bluetooth LE, which will trigger a formal Wi-Fi Aware session by first waking the Wi-Fi radio.

  • What operating systems support Wi-Fi Aware?

    Native support is available in the Android™ O (and later) operating system.

  • What are the latest features that are available in Wi-Fi Aware as of today?

    Wi-Fi Aware incorporates enhanced power savings, service discovery, Bluetooth Low Energy triggered initialization, device ranging, as well as native and IP-based data transfer. ​