Apple Store’s Gift to Grand Central Terminal: Free Wi-Fi

You may not have noticed, but the new Apple Store which opened in
Grand Central Terminal Friday brought with it an early holiday
gift for harried New York commuters: Free Wi-Fi.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority has offered free Wi-Fi in the historic venue since 2008, but only in the small ticketed-passengers-only Station Master’s Office waiting area on the station’s west side.

The vast Main Concourse, with its soaring, 125-foot-high ceiling, iconic four-faced clock and landmark circular information booth, is well beyond the reach of the MTA’s Wi-Fi access point.

Fortunately the new Apple Store at Grand Central Terminal offers free Wi-Fi which freely spills out of the store’s base on the East Balcony, across the vast Main Concourse and into many of the other areas of the station’s main level.

When tested with a new LG Nitro HD Android 2.3 smartphone for AT&T, the Apple Store’s Wi-Fi signal was strong throughout the Main Concourse and was even reachable under archways below the West Balcony. The signal didn’t disappear until just before the west side escalators to the lower level.

The free Wi-Fi is good news for delayed commuters with iPods, Wi-Fi-only Kindles, iPads and other tablets and handheld devices and for those with limited data plans for their cell phones. It’s also good news for users of smartphone videoconferencing apps that run only over Wi-Fi, not over their carriers’ data networks.

So how do you connect? Just turn on your device’s Wi-Fi adapter, search for the access point named “Apple Store,” and connect. The open network doesn’t even require a sign-in; just connect and go. But a word to the wise: Since this Wi-Fi connection offers no security, save your online banking for a more secure Internet link at home or work.

Text, video and photo Copyright 2011, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

Apple Store at Grand Central Terminal Arriving Soon – But When?

The largest Apple Store in the world is almost fully baked, but right now you can’t tell what’s behind the black curtain at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

An electronic sign which mimics the destination signs at Grand Central offers some teasers, but holds back the most essential information: When will the darn thing open? When will commuters passing through the historic train station get a chance to peruse iPads and Macs on their ways to and from work? No official word from Apple yet.

The good news is that you won’t have any problem finding the store: It takes up the entire east balcony and then some.

Those of you old enough to lie about your age might remember when this area was completely blocked by the Kodak Colorama, a gigantic photo which took over the entire balcony. The 18-by-60-foot transparency, billed as the world’s largest photograph, ruled over the space for 40 years until the late 1990s, when Grand Central underwent a major renovation which removed billboards, kiosks and other clutter out of the main waiting area and added the east staircase.

It’s a sure bet that the store will open early enough to inhale income from the current holiday shopping season, but we don’t know when the black curtain will lift. However, even though you can’t shop at the Grand Central Terminal Apple Store yet, you can apply for a job there now, according to Apple’s website.

Text and video Copyright 2011, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features