“AirPort” Now Called “Wi-Fi” in Lion, Simple Name Change or Sign of New Products?

Jun 14, 2011 - 10 Comments

AirPort becomes Wi-Fi

Apple appears to be dropping the AirPort branding in favor of the universally accepted Wi-Fi moniker, at least in Mac OS X Lion. The subtle change was noted in the latest Lion builds by MacRumors, and is noticeable in the Airport, errrr, Wi-Fi menu drop down.

Simple Name Change or a Sign of New Products?
A possible side effect of the name change could impact the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, Airport Base Stations, and even the Time Capsule, who all rely on ‘AirPort’ as part of their branding. Are these going to be simply renamed to Wi-Fi Express and Wi-Fi Extreme? That doesn’t sound too Apple-like, so I doubt it, however there are some rumors that suggest the entire AirPort and Time Capsule product line is going to get a major refresh soon. Variations on the rumor include some sort of syncing with iCloud for backups, and others say the new devices may even include A5 processors and to run iOS, similar to an Apple TV. If this is true, that minor name change in Lion may be an indicator of some new products in Apple’s pipeline.

Name Change to Alleviate Confusion or Is Everyone Overthinking This?
On the other hand, MacGasm speculates the name change could be aimed simply at distinguishing LAN and WAN usage:

Curiously, Apple’s introduced AirDrop with Lion. This could be another tell. Until now, Apple’s use of air in their products that directly connected to the internet, wirelessly in some way. That changed with AirDrop, the new Lion technology is only available on local networks, and is not available over WAN, at least as it is at this point. Apple could be making the move to rid the confusion of AirDevices being WAN related AirPlay is also a local area network device. Is Apple in the process of distinguishing between the LAN and WAN with Air and iCloud?

It’s also entirely possible that everyone is reading too much into this, and that Apple is just making things easier for new Mac users with Lion. Most Windows PC people associate an 802.11 wireless network with “Wi-Fi” rather than Apple’s branded “AirPort”, so renaming it Wi-Fi in the connection menu could be another move to accommodate the hoards of switchers and newcomers to the Mac platform.

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Posted by: Matt Chan in Mac OS X

10 Comments

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  1. ian says:

    overthinking it, just a simple name change

  2. EVula says:

    Total overthinking. iOS calls it wi-fi, and Lion is all about bringing OSX and iOS closer together for new users.

  3. Victor says:

    How can I set up the network stats that appear in your toolbar?

  4. [...] yes, I called it the WiFi menu rather than AirPort, since Lion is moving away from the AirPort references, at least in regard to the menubar. stLight.options({ [...]

  5. aardman says:

    The Airport -> Wi-Fi change makes it easier for PC -> Mac switchers. Why use a proprietary name instead of the generic equivalent that is understood by everyone?

  6. Arnaud says:

    “Why use a proprietary name instead of the generic equivalent that is understood by everyone?”

    I’d say because “Wi-Fi” is ugly, while “AirPort” is a whole name that reads in one part.
    I’ll keep on saying AirPort, no matter what.

    • Nirbhay says:

      I agree. I think Airport was a name meant for a technology that lets you connect over the air irrespective of the technology underneath.

  7. Chris says:

    Glad they renamed it, I am new to Mac and I kept thinking it was like “airport mode” like if you take a laptop to an airport… for some reason it would go into airport mode… had no idea it was just Wi-Fi… that makes much more sense.

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