Router settings made easier with Cisco’s Linksys Smart WiFi devices

One of the more irritating aspects of setting up a home network has been how you go about kid- and family-proofing it, but Cisco’s range of Linksys routers is trying to take the guesswork out by letting you control a network with a smartphone or tablet.

Cisco today let loose with a new range of routers changing the way you use them, taking advantage of tiny applications for your phone or tablet that let you change the functionally of your router with ease.

The network devices are called Linksys Smart WiFi Routers and effectively update the currently released 802.11n routers to support the new app system Cisco has developed. The models include the Linksys EA4500 with up to 900Mbps, Linksys EA3500 with up to 750Mbps, and Linksys EA2700 with up to 600Mbps.

All three include dual-band wireless functionality, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, guest access, and basic parental controls, but the real changes happen with the support for applications that can change quality of service settings and parental control.

The concept of making a router work with apps isn’t a new one, with other manufacturers jumping on the app-based bandwagon recently. But the Cisco router with app support tries something different, with the apps installed to your smartphone or tablet and acting as an easy-to-use interface to change the settings of your router.

Take “Netproofer”, an app available for iOS and Android that works to add settings to a Linksys Smart WiFi Router to make it impossible for users of the network to access certain websites, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, and more.

Another app – “Block The Bad Stuff” – does something similar, offering a simple three level system to make the Linksys routers block off access to adult sites or webpages that aren’t exactly family friendly. Most of the sites are pre-configured, but sites can apparently be added to the app for customisation.

Block The Bad Stuff is an iOS app that blocks adult content quickly on Linksys Smart WiFi routers.

Apps are even available to help out with browsing and playing back video content, with HipPlay offering streaming content from Facebook or Dropbox, and Twonky for beaming video directly to connected devices.

Cisco has also changed its own router dashboard, improving it with support for Cisco’s own “Connect Cloud” online interface for controlling network connections from the iPhone, iPad, Android, or a web browser.

The company also previewed a new range of routers set to arrive later this year, the devices taking advantage of the new high-speed 802.11ac technology that some manufacturers are already starting to launch.

Cisco’s version of the hardware will come in the form of the Linksys EA6500, a Smart WiFi Router with support for apps, wireless performance as high as 1.7Gbps, and support for a Near-Field Communication technology called “SimpleTap” that will allow phones, tablets, computers, home appliances, and home theatre devices an easy way to connect to a home network with one touch.

The upcoming 802.11ac router from Cisco, due to arrive later this year.

“We share the vision that the connected home should be simple and enjoyable, and we are proud to be the first consumer electronics partner to incorporate Cisco Linksys’ SimpleTap technology into our new AV receivers,” said Nobuaki Okuda, President of Onkyo Sound & Vision Corporation.

Cisco this week told us that Onkyo were one of the first companies to take advantage of this technology, with Whirlpool joining the home theatre company to create SimpleTap connected devices and appliances in the next few years.

Unfortunately, the NFC-capable 802.11ac hardware won’t be making its way out until September or October this year, but the more app-friendly Linksys WiFi routers can be found now from $149.95 to 299.95.