In the discussions that the project team held, our biggest goal was to get the supplicant running on as many platforms as we could. The first step is the common desktop operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux). However, there’s a long term trend at work with computers infiltrating everything. When I first started doing wireless LANs, it was something that was nice to have for laptops. In the past several years, we’ve seen 802.11 go from an esoteric data link to the most obvious way to connect a plethora of devices from laptops to game devices (the Xbox and PSP both have 802.11) to phones (I carry a Nokia E61) and PDAs.
Each time a wireless LAN interface gets put into a device, you need the entire protocol stack complete with all the security protocols. Wireless security protocols can be complex, and expertise hasn’t kept up with the wide diversity in available products. Often, a product will have a wireless LAN interface that lags behind the rest of the product in functionality.
One of the best examples of the “wireless feature lag” is our #1 feature request. Everybody who’s interested in our work has asked us to port the supplicant to the iPhone to get better interoperability with wireless LANs. Most university networks require user credentials (WPA-Enterprise) instead of pre-shared keys (WPA-Personal), but the iPhone lacks that feature. Back in October, there was an iPhone SDK announced, with details to follow in February. We’re waiting to see what features the SDK will bring, and hope to start working on an iPhone shortly. (If you’re interested in 802.1X on the iPhone, sign the on-line petition.)