‘Tether’ Hotspot App for iPhone May Leave You Cold
Tether, an HTML5 app, promises to turn your iPhone into a hotspot without those pricey extra service charges from your wireless carrier. But CIO.com blogger James A. Martin had no luck at all getting Tether to work.
I love, love, love the ability to turn my smartphone into a hotspot for my laptop and Wi-Fi-only iPad. When I’m traveling or attending a trade show where Wi-Fi is often spotty, my iPhone’s personal hotspot feature constantly comes in handy.
But AT&T, my wireless carrier, is abusing me. The company insists on making the personal hotspot/tethering feature a premium service that adds $20 to my $30 3GB monthly data plan. I did the math: That’s an extra $240 per year.
I don’t think AT&T customers should have to pay extra for the personal hotspot/tether feature. If you blow past your monthly data-plan allotment because you’ve been tethering a lot, then you should have to pay more.
And yet, I keep coming back for more abuse. So I read with great interest about Tether, a new HTML5 ‘application’ that promises to turn your iPhone into a hotspot without a “jailbreak” or wireless carrier’s add-on fees.
The company behind Tether previously released a similar app, iTether, in Apple’s App Store in 2011. Not surprisingly, Apple yanked the app because it “burdens the carrier network,” according to a Tether blog post. As a workaround, Tether, the HTML5 mobile-optimized ‘app’ that exists completely independently of Apple’s App Store and iTunes, was announced on March 9.
Tether is meant to share your iPhone’s Internet connection by creating an ad-hoc network between it and your other mobile devices. As part of the setup process, you run a free Tether app on your computer and launch the HTML5 Tether login/connection page on your phone. The Tether service costs $30 a year.
Despite dozens of attempts to transform my iPhone into a hotspot for my two Macs, I was unable to get the Tether service to work with either computer. I closely followed the setup process outlined in a video on the Tether site. But the result was almost always the same: the Tether app couldn’t establish a connection to my computer.
I emailed Tether tech support. Five days later, tech support responded, suggesting I install the latest version of the Mac OS Tether software, version 126.96.36.199. This version had not been available for download when I initially set up Tether on my iPhone and Mac. After installing the update, I made a connection at last…or so I thought. But I still couldn’t access any web pages. Completely frustrated, I gave up and emailed tech support for a refund. To the company’s credit, I received an email within 24 hours, notifying me of the refund.
Maybe you’ll have better luck with Tether. I certainly hope so. If you do, please share your experience in the comments section. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to investigate other workarounds (excluding a jailbreak) for my abusive relationship with AT&T’s personal hotspot feature.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.