Print 19 comment(s) - last by JoshuaBuss.. on Mar 22 at 4:42 PM

A Irish iPhone hacker and beta tester discovered the new tethering settings in the OS v3.0. This is the tethering home screen.  (Source: Apple Insider)
The new iPhone OS brings the possibility of tethering if carriers approve it

With the official announcement of the iPhone OS v3.0 there has been much excitement over the new features, which include MMS support, copy cut and paste, turn-by-turn directions (via third-party hardware), FM radio support (via third-party hardware), and new Bluetooth support.  One feature that didn't receive much attention was tethering.

Apple said at the press event for the new OS that it would be allowing tethering and has built the functionality into the new OS.  However, whether or not you can use this functionality is entirely dependent on whether your carrier chooses to support it, and thus far AT&T, the official iPhone carrier in the U.S., has announced no plans to do so.

Still, those interested in how the tethering will work will take interest in this news.  Irish programmer Steve Troughton, an iPhone hacker and OS v3.0 beta tester, became the first to see the new tethering features.  He accidentally unlocked the features when overwriting his carrier, O2's, Carrier Settings file.

The result was an options screen for a tethered connection.  The connection could be turned on by either connecting via USB or Bluetooth and then sliding the a slide bar to "on".  When tethered the phone displays a message beneath the clock -- "Internet Tethering" -- to remind the user that their phone is tethered and is consuming data.

For some carriers outside the U.S., like Rogers Wireless (Canada), tethering should be a breeze to support, as they already offer tethered connections to their smart phone models.  AT&T, however, has not confirmed a time table or stated that it has any concrete plans for such a scheme yet on the iPhone.

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Changing your mind?
By ltcommanderdata on 3/20/2009 9:36:41 AM , Rating: 3
It's interesting that you mention tethering being reveal by Apple in it's press event in this article while you specifically point out tethering as a feature that Apple failed to deliver in iPhone 3.0 in your original article on the event.

In any case, being Canadian, I find it kind of amusing that Rogers is being used as the role model for how wireless carriers should be. Maybe it's only me that's not fond of some of Roger's practices?

RE: Changing your mind?
By JasonMick on 3/20/2009 9:43:32 AM , Rating: 1
Sorry for being ambiguous before, but what I meant by "failed to deliver" with tethering was that they announced no official plans and hardly acknowledged it until the Q&A. It is a feature in the new OS, but itll only be useful if AT&T will support it. And I wouldn't hold my breath on AT&T coming through real soon -- probably they will eventually, but who knows how long it will be.

RE: Changing your mind?
By ltcommanderdata on 3/20/2009 10:03:44 AM , Rating: 3
Well AT&T is starting to crack on the unlocking issue so there may be hope yet. They'll no doubt hold off for as long as they can though.

RE: Changing your mind?
By michael2k on 3/20/2009 12:27:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think the only reason they held back was the lack of infrastructure. If they could charge an extra $45 a month to allow tethering, I think they would.

But all the internet usage statistics from the last two years tells us that the iPhone sucked a lot of data even without tethering.

RE: Changing your mind?
By bhieb on 3/20/2009 10:27:15 AM , Rating: 2
What is odd is that I used to tether my Tilt all the time on Att, so I don't think they explicitly block it.

RE: Changing your mind?
By AlexWade on 3/20/2009 11:55:40 AM , Rating: 2
I tether my Blackberry Bold without a tethering plan. AT&T has not said a word of complaint about it. AT&T has many flaws, being uptight is not one of them in my experience.

RE: Changing your mind?
By omnicronx on 3/20/2009 10:46:31 AM , Rating: 2
In any case, being Canadian, I find it kind of amusing that Rogers is being used as the role model for how wireless carriers should be. Maybe it's only me that's not fond of some of Roger's practices?
Every Canadian cell phone company gets you in one way or another. Rogers is far too expensive, Telus has crappy reception in many places and bell has the worst customer service, and charges far too much for their phones.

From the sounds of it at least rogers lets you tether, I have Bell and if I do, I get charged for it at insanely high rates. Tethering plans were sold separately, at least this is how it was when I changed my plan last year.

At least with rogers/fido you are not locked to specific phones. I've realized now that the ability to switch phones anytime far outweighs paying more for your contract. As much as we would like to think so, a cell phone will not last for 3 years for most people. (whether it be lost, broken, dead battery etc).

RE: Changing your mind?
By Villains on 3/20/2009 1:01:35 PM , Rating: 2
EVERY Canadian cell phone company is too expensive and uses practices that most wish they wouldnt. Imo tho, Telus has the best coverage and reception but its too bad their customer service is on par with Bell as the worst out of any company i have ever dealt with, for anything. At least in my area anyway.

at&t already allows tethering?
By smackababy on 3/20/2009 9:58:41 AM , Rating: 2
When I had them, although I hated the service, allowed tethering to my HTC. I don't see why it would be different for an iPhone. Knowing Apple and at&t though, they will want to charge for it.

RE: at&t already allows tethering?
By icrf on 3/20/2009 11:46:57 AM , Rating: 2
I've never understood why "unlimited" internet on your phone is decently priced, but adding 5GB/mo of tethered internet is a big extra expense.

RE: at&t already allows tethering?
By michael2k on 3/20/2009 12:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I've got about 2GB of data a year on my iPhone using it for about 3 hours a day as an internet device. Obviously I'm not stretching the "unlimited" plan too bad.

But if I had it "tethered" to my laptop? I bet I would go through 2GB a month :)

Not because my usage is significantly different, but because, as a full featured laptop, more things would happen in the background: More emails sent and received, multiple tabs open at once, flash (!) ads and sites, etc.

So from AT&T's perspective, unlimited data is probably a whole order of magnitude less intensive than tethered.

If you have an iPhone, look up it's usage and see how much data you suck down in a year or two.

RE: at&t already allows tethering?
By icrf on 3/20/2009 10:22:45 PM , Rating: 1
I don't have an iPhone, or any cell phone, actually. I was thinking of getting one, or really asking work to get me one. The office has apparently decided Blackberries are out and iPhones are in, so I doubt it'd take much. But, I bought a netbook a couple months ago, and the only reason I'd get a cell phone is for bluetooth tethering. If I got an iPhone, personally, I could jailbreak the thing and make it work. I don't think I'd do that to a company phone. But, if it were offered as a pay-option, work would definiely pay for it for me.

Well, technically I want a phone for mobile internet. I would probably determine that the vast majority of my mobile internet needs could be met by the iPhone itself without tethering. Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

RE: at&t already allows tethering?
By grath on 3/20/2009 2:55:35 PM , Rating: 2
In the case of the non-USB tethering, over bluetooth or wifi, they probably have concerns about the impact it has on battery life and how that would reflect on the product. On my jailbroke phone using the old version of the PDAnet application which only tethered over wifi, the drain on the battery was incredible. Indeed, plugging it into the USB just to charge while it was in use the battery barely broke even. That is to say, that the rate of charging was only slightly higher than the drain of using both the wifi and cellular data network simultaneously. It seems that is simply something it was not intended to do within reasonable battery life constraints. Luckily the current version of iPhone PDAnet supports tether over USB, which has worked great for me, as I imagine it would when officially supported. There are still situations where people would want to tether without being hardwired, and that probably puts a very uncomfortable look on the engineers faces when they think about how the average user would complain about the battery life.

Useful, but not....
By George Powell on 3/20/2009 11:33:22 AM , Rating: 2
As an iPhone user in the UK I can see the attraction of being able to tether my iPhone to my Macbook Pro, or indeed any other computer. However when I use my laptop I'm very rarely outside of wifi reception, and when outside the iPhone itself in nearly all cases satisfies my web requirements.

It is almost impossible now to get a coffee without wifi added on, so this functionality, certainly in cities is unlikely to have a huge uptake.
Where it might be more useful is out in the countryside, but there the actual 3G or Edge reception will become more of an issue.

Personally I'd use the feature, but only if there wasn't any additional charge, or possibly if the addition cost was very small.

RE: Useful, but not....
By kingpotnoodle on 3/20/2009 11:43:55 AM , Rating: 2
As a Nokia user in the UK I have been connecting my phones via USB or Bluetooth to act as a 3G modem for several years now, and I can't understand what all the fuss is about... pretty basic feature IMHO, I didn't know that this was yet another thing iPhone couldn't do yet, and makes me even more glad I haven't fallen onto the ibandwagon!

RE: Useful, but not....
By michael2k on 3/20/2009 12:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
There is no fuss. The capability has been there since the first iPhone (someone actually wrote an app to allow tethering, and sold a few copies before Apple pulled it!).

The real issue is that Apple has made an API for it (probably with features to auto-throttle, measure, and cap so people don't over-spend), and that carriers finally have enough bandwidth to support it.

At least in the US, it was discovered that after the release of the iPhone that data usage increased 50x, and tethering wasn't an option. Many people reported slow or spotty coverage due to too many iPhones in an area.

If they had allowed tethering as an option, I'm willing to bet that service would have ground to a standstill until AT&T could beef up their coverage. My guess is that two years later they've done enough for it to be an option.

RE: Useful, but not....
By JoshuaBuss on 3/22/2009 4:42:28 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I'm a nokia user on AT&T and I've been "tethering" for 4 years. It never used to be called 'tethering'... it was just called "phone as modem" or PAM for short.

Where did this term suddenly come from, and please again tell me why people are interested in a phone that's been so gimped for so long?

By PAPutzback on 3/20/2009 9:58:47 AM , Rating: 1
They'll want an extra fee to enable the feature.

For my HTC Touch I had to find the registry hacks to enable the feature. The speeds are only a few times better than dial up but tolerable.

Did someone say... APPLE?
By icanhascpu on 3/20/2009 3:19:26 PM , Rating: 1

TETHERING? What sorcery is this? Down with Apple!! Yarr!! Did you know that an Apple was all it took to toss Adam and Eve from Eden? They are CHULK FULL OF EVIL!

/burns an Apple tree

am i do'n it rite?

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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