Will Apple and AT&T allow iPad tethering? (updated)

Will Apple and AT&T allow iPad tethering? (updated)

Summary: The latest developer release of iPhone OS 4 includes a setting for Internet tethering. While almost a year late, the feature isn't yet released and begs the question: will Apple and AT&T allow you to tether your iPad to your iPhone?

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple, AT&T
11

http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/4/2010/05/500x_tethering_01.jpgGizmodo reports that iPhone OS 4 beta 4, released to developers yesterday, includes an option for Internet tethering.

The setting is now clearly visible in Settings > General > Network as a button labeled "Set Up Internet Tethering" (pictured). The descriptive text underneath reads:

Internet Tethering allows you to share your iPhone's Internet connection with your computer via Bluetooth or USB.

If tethering is actually released next month, AT&T would finally be delivering on its promise almost a year late. Tethering was promised at the end of summer 2009 then at the end of 2009, so excuse me if I sound pessimistic.

The real question is how Apple and AT&T will implement iPhone tethering. It's obvious that AT&T will charge for the service and one need look no further than the data plans available for the iPad 3G for a hint of what's to come. Two 3G data options are available for the iPad:

  • 250MB of data - $15 per month
  • Unlimited data - $30 per month

Both require a one-month minimum but no extended contract beyond that. It would stand to reason that AT&T will offer similar plans to iPhone owners.

My question is whether Apple will allow the iPad to tether to the iPhone. Sure, it sounds like a no-brainer, but then again this is AT&T we're talking about here. If Apple doesn't, I'd imagine that customers would revolt. After all, isn't the iPad just a computer? How could Apple/AT&T allow tethering to a MacBook but not to an iPad?

Conspiracy theorists would say that Apple wants to sell more 3G iPads (which carry a $130 premium over the Wi-Fi model) and that AT&T would rather you purchase another data contract. But if you're already paying or an iPhone data plan and tethering for your notebook computer, no one would purchase a third data plan for their iPad? Would they?

Again, I don't think that Apple/AT&T have any choice but to include the iPad in its tethering plans, but truth is often stranger than fiction.

The best tethering option -- hands down -- isn't tethering at all. The Palm Pre+ offers a mobile hotspot app that allows up to five devices to share its 3G Internet connection - for free. That's $60 less per month than a MiFi and (an estimated) $30 less than AT&T's tethering plan.

Photo: Gizmodo

Update: Gizmodo notes the other new features since beta 3: a utilities folder, new wallpapers, the ability to turn off group messages and viewing photos in landscape mode.

Topics: Apple, AT&T

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

11 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Will Apple and AT&T allow iPad tethering? (updated)

    Bits are bits. Charging me more money because the source of my bits is a laptop instead of the iPhone/iPad is just gouging. It's the same network. I'm already paying for data. I'm not surprised that AT&T wants to double-dip. I'm just surprised that its customers are dumb enough to accept it.
    wbeem
  • I hope so

    I'm still on original Edge iPhone -- I didn't want to pay the extra $15/month for 3G. But I'm wanting to upgrade to the new iPhone this summer and I've told myself I'll do it: but ONLY if I can tether to my Wifi iPad. Otherwise I'll just jailbreak my current iPhone (no loss there as it won't be eligible for OS upgrades any more apparently) and use that for tethering on those rare times I'm not near wifi. In other words, I'm a user that is willing to pay -- but only if I'm not being charged twice.
    zeemarc
  • Apple and AT&T both have too much to lose

    Not allowing the iPad to tether would be the bonehead decision of 2010. With Verizon and the Android phones making steady progress on Apple's early lead, you'd think Apple and AT&T would know better. But then again....
    psquared007
  • RE: Will Apple and AT&T allow iPad tethering? (updated)

    "The best tethering option ?????? hands down ?????? isn??????t tethering at all. The Palm Pre offers a mobile hotspot app that allows up to five devices to share its 3G Internet connection - for free. That??????s $60 less per month than a MiFi and (an estimated) $30 less than AT&T??????s tethering plan."

    I believe the Androids have the same ability as the Pre with a free app download.
    outasync
    • RE: Will Apple and AT&T allow iPad tethering? (updated)

      @outasync
      Androids do have the same option but it requires rooting. The new version 2.2 that is supposed to come out supposedly supports that without rooting but their will be an additional cost on verizon I am sure.
      sanjonny
  • What is the point of tethered ipad?

    If iPad is on the data plan and it is connected to the laptop then it is like having two connected laptops. When iPad is connected to the iPhone for data network it becomes quite a cumbersome combination. In any case I do not see any point in tethered iPad. It is like buying iPad, keyboard and then working over remote desktop on windows pc :)
    paul2011
  • RE: Will Apple and AT&T allow iPad tethering? (updated)

    I must be dumb because this is not news to me. My Iphone have had the "Internet Tethering", bluetooth/usb, forever. Did I get it in OS 3 or was it there even before that? Not sure. It works great though. Oh, and I'm in Europe, maybe that's why?
    HelloAndy
    • RE: Will Apple and AT&T allow iPad tethering? (updated)

      @HelloAndy yes that's definitely why. Yet notice that in France tethering comes at an extra cost, even though I have an unlimited plan with Orange (France), they still want to charge for the bits that are going to my laptop. The end of the story: I was once only in an hotel with wifi access down, and gave up on a 10Euros additional charge per month to read 2 documents on my laptop. These network providers are nuts, but if they find people willing to pay for the same service twice, why stop?
      dmendels
  • How is Tethering One Device That Exciting? :D

    I mean really....... Android Froyo 2.2 can Hot Spot serve up to 8 devices. Granted that this is best done with a 4G connection. The only 4G Mobile Phone available 1st of June is Evo. Tethering? ahaha..... child's play on any Android device after the update! ;)
    i2fun@...
  • iPhone OS 3.1.3 has this

    The OS already supports Tethering.

    I have used the tethering by turning this on and using bluetooth to tether. It works.

    Apple is not late with this feature at all.

    It may be that this can be disabled by the carrier?

    Again - you need to do better research.

    So much of the whining and attacks on Apple are due to a US centric view of the world.

    Outside your country there are unlocked iPhones purchased from Apple stores and tethering is able to be switched on, just as in your screen shots.

    All phones worldwide are to some extent limited to suit the carrier's requirements, the iPhone is no exception. Apple wears quite a bit of flack for the carrier contractual arrangements that are normal for phones. After all it is the carrier that is selling the phone and providing back end infrastructure to work with the phone - so as much as I do not approve of the single iPhone carrier situation you have in the US, I can see why it exists, and Apple has to work in the commercial reality of your market.

    Here it is a lot harder to maintain that kind of exclusive and this did not happen - but we do have the carriers selling their phones with network locking, and the carriers charge to remove it.

    The Apple store sells the iPhone here without network locking.

    A 3 Mobile (Carrier) customer can just turn tethering on using that setting.

    An Optus customer has to activate the option with Optus and pay extra for it. Then they can use the settings you show to enable it.



    So Gizmodo, and now you are reporting that a feature that already exists is late, when it is in use now in other countries - OK you say AT&T is late in delivering so this is not misreporting.

    But reporting that a feature that is already in OS 3 may be new in OS 4. What is wrong with this picture?

    Maybe it is time to work out just what Apple's product already is?

    So much of the 'facts' I have seen about the iPhone have been wrong, but then this keeps the bloggers busy doing the reporter's jobs. And it's all page hits, for the flash Ads.

    if flash went then where would your revenue be?

    But that's another false story!!!
    richardw66
  • tethering works on ipad

    my simple way around the ipad tether issue for the android is to get the program called wifi tether for rooted phones. it lets you make a wifi access point from your phone. once you have that running, you just logon using the ipads wifi. it detects your cellphone like any other wifi access point. free internet, no extra charges cuba3377@hotmail.com questions?
    cuba3377