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Apple Approves Tethering App For the iPhone (tether.com)
65 points by switz 2205 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments

This will be banned soon. For those of you who don't want to drop $15, there's an open-source tethering app available: https://github.com/tcurdt/iProxy/wiki/ Note you will need to have an Apple developer account to be able to build and install this on a real device

"We were very clear with Apple what our app did. They asked us a bunch of questions and then approved us."


That doesn't matter. Back when I wrote my first iOS app (which used private APIs extensively), I had long conversations with several reveiwers (e-mail and phone) where they said it was fine.

We all know how _that_ played out...

What was your app?


From Friedmud on MacRumors: "It is true if you think about what they did here. All they did was make an App that talks over USB to your computer. Nothing wrong with that.

It just so happens though that the "talking" it is doing is transcribing bits to/from the internet connection of the phone.

The App itself is incapable of "tethering" without the piece installed on your computer that translates what the App is sending into a normal looking ethernet device.

Think of it this way... if I made an app that was called USBTwitter... and all it did was read bits over USB and posted them to your twitter account... then I made an executable that you ran on your Mac that sent text bits over USB... you would then be able to post to twitter _through_ your phone (ie tether).

This is the very same thing... but of course more general.

You honestly can't stop this without disallowing apps to use the USB port on the phone (or trying to explicitly ban it in the developer terms... but it would be hard because there would be plenty of "non-tethering" applications that would want to talk over USB and send bits over the phone's net connection simultaneously...)

It will be interesting to see what Apple does here..."


I couldn't get iProxy working right under iOS 5, and I couldn't find anyone else even trying. Worked great for me last year on iOS 4, though.

I only need tethering once a year. This iTether app would have been handy last week.

Once a year? Let me guess: Trade Show

Actually, Thanksgiving in a cabin with my parents. :)

I can confirm that it works, however, you do need to keep the app front-and-center to keep the connection alive. Also, it only works over USB, not WiFi or BT, and you need to have the custom Tether app installed on your PC. Looks like it's creating an Ethernet-over-USB interface to the phone, then I can't tell if the app is contacting network servers directly, or if it's proxying it all back to Tether.com's servers (traceroute didn't want to run for me).

Interestingly, if I have WiFi active on the iPhone, it routes the connection over the WiFi network, which could be really nice in certain circumstances (you pay for a WiFi roaming plan on your phone, but don't have access to it on your PC).

Speedtest was showing 2.3 Mbps down, 0.9 up over 3G. Not too shabby.

I only plan to use this occasionally, to check emails from the road; I hope AT&T doesn't try to yank my unlimited data plan...

[I'm posting this comment over the Tether link now]

I just tried the iPhone app with my Macbook Pro and can verify it works. You have to keep the iPhone app front and center, not in the background in order for it to work. It still works when the iPhone is in sleep mode.

Now going to check if it will work with my iPad3G connected to my Macbook Pro.

Hope this info helps confirm/answer questions out there.

Confirmed. This works using my iPad 3G connected to my Macbook Pro.

Now turning on Internet sharing from Ethernet to Wifi to see if I can have my Mac act as a Wifi hotspot using the iPhone tether.

More information here, since the site is down: http://www.macrumors.com/2011/11/29/itether-app-offers-inter...

All the iPhones here in Canada has tethering enabled. Under settings you can turn on personal hotspot.

All the carriers in Australia offer free tethering and wifi hotspot as well.

Does Optus still charge for it? I know you can't use it on Pre-Paid.

I don't know about prepaid but my brother has an iPhone on a post-paid contract and he gets free tethering.

No, they don't. Fido requires a subscription to 1GB data minimum or the tethering will be disabled.

Yeah, same in Norway and Malaysia (where I live now).

here in the US people still buy it... and mind you the white one, because everyone have the black iphone.

The operators would be suckers if they give that for free instead of $30/mo

i'm happy with my nexus. don't even have to open the settings, i have a widget that turns on and off right on the home screen.

"The operators would be suckers if they give that for free instead of $30/mo"

So telcos outside the US are suckers? I'm from Norway and Telenor has tethering enabled and they are one of the biggest telcos in the world.

If you take into account they could be making 30/mo for each use FOR FREE I'd say they are :)

Or, what is muchmore likely, as corporates don't pass on free money ever, their market is not and so theycan't make free money like in the usa.

Well thankfully we have a more competitive marked in Europe then. Data is already included in the plans so charging for tethering which just uses data is absurd. So it is not telcos outside the US that are suckers. It is consumers in the US who are.

I was going to ask what the point of this was, because I can just do it already on my iPhone. But from the comments I guess they charge you extra for it in the US? That sucks.

I'm curious how much data you get, and for how much money?

Me? I get 5GB of data on my plan which costs $89 AU a month. That includes unlimited phone calls, SMS, voicemail etc The only thing with a cap of any kind on it is the data, and I never use even close to 5GB, even with my iPad and MacBook tethering occasionally.

For comparison, here are some US rates:

T-Mobile: Unlimited txt/voice, 5GB data == $89.99 USD (2GB is 10 less, there is no cost overage after the cap, but the speed drops to less than 2G)

Sprint: Unlimited txt/voice/data == $110

ATT: Unlimited txt/voice, 4GB == $115, 2GB == $95

This is one of the reasons I decided against the iPhone after using it for a week - it leaves a setting that should be under the control of users to the carriers.

Saying that your carrier allows it for free is missing the point...

This isn't an iPhone issue, it's a US carrier issue. Americans need to be asking ourselves why we let ourselves get pushed around so much more than other first world countries on these kinds of things.

What exactly should the American consumer do in protest? Not buy smartphones until carriers are nicer?

We need better, more efficient regulation. Basically, we need to get back in control of the government. Big business owns it right now so life is getting better and better for them at our expense.

It does feel a bit like a runaway train, but I'm not sure it's the government's place to police the carriers on features and price (my biggest issues with them). What we really need is one solid competitor who aims to do things differently. We need an Apple / Google in the carrier world.

> I'm not sure it's the government's place to police the carriers

> We need an Apple / Google in the carrier world

if the government does not have the solution, and a major competitor to the big 4 (perhaps soon to be 3) carriers has not begun emerging, what do you think we should do? continue to wait for such a competitor to emerge? do you think one ever will?

It's an entrepreneurial opportunity. Someone needs to enter the carrier market, much like what BankSimple is doing to banking and Square is doing to payments. Those are both huge markets where a startup has entered. The carrier market is arguably smaller than the banking market (albeit not by much), so it's not inconceivable to see a startup enter this space.

Obviously the people behind this startup need to have $$ and not have their heads up their asses (like the other carriers).

that's not my point. clearly you and i do not have enough money to start such a carrier. why do you think such no one else has started such a carrier? should we wait around for someone to start one? what if we wait 10 years and no such carrier emerges? or should we push for new regulations?

Gotcha. I guess we wait, unless you have contacts / $$.


>but I'm not sure it's the government's place to police the carriers on features and price

The governments place is what ever we say it is.

I am in the EU and my carrier was until recently completely blocking the option of using personal hotspot - couldn't even pay for it.

Now you get it for 5 EUR...

It's not a US issue. 2 out of 3 Dutch carriers (that I know of) do not allow tethering in their profile.

same here. tethering to me is one of the best features a smart phone offers. it needs to be standard on every model. I hate that we're being bullied to pay extra for it, or worse yet get a separate device just for tethering. my 4 year old android phone does it well and in the background and i didn't neat to break anything to get it working.

There's no question that this will be pulled soon. The question is: will Apple also disable the app remotely for all those who purchased it, something that is possible, but (I believe) unprecedented.

> The question is: will Apple also disable the app remotely for all those who purchased it, something that is possible, but (I believe) unprecedented.

They did not do it for the previous iteration of the concept (Netshare, those who kept it can still use it, although I'm not sure it still works on recent iOS versions). It's very unlikely they'd do it this time either, remote kill is for actively dangerous/harmful applications and they'd get a complete shitstorm using their killswitch for this.

That seems unlikely. I think there already was a tethering app which Apple pulled from the Store but didn’t pull from devices. I do think that Apple is serious when they say that their ability to remotely pull apps is reserved for malware.

The much more elegant solution for Apple is to make this app silently stop working with the next OS update.

This is correct. The app was NetShare, and it still resides on my phone.

Does that app still work with the current version of the OS?

Yes. I had sporadic trouble with it under ios 4, but it resumed working properly in ios 5. Never liked uncommon ports, though.

That’s very interesting. Wouldn’t it be very easy for Apple to break the app with an OS update? You would almost expect that an app stops working after so many OS updates (not because someone purposefully made it stop working but rather coincidentally).

Chances are NetShare reused existing code from an open source SOCKS proxy implementation, which would probably just use standard UNIX APIs. Combine that with the simplicity of the GUI, and it's very possible that none of the APIs it is using have changed since release.

fwiw, Tether (the company) claims Apple was aware of what the app did:


Site seems to be having issues.

The video suggests you have software on your computer and your phone, and that handles tethering circumventing the software built in to iOS.


Also, it seems they've targeted it at very non-technical users.

I managed to buy the iPhone app last night, but now it looks like it got yanked from the app store - at least in the US?

Edit. Looks like they did. Glad I got it when I did last night:


I was wondering what this is about since iOS has the personal hotspot feature for a while which turns your iphone into a WiFi Router and works flawlessly. Seems like US users dont have this ? Thats really bad.

US users do have it, but it's an additional fee on top of the regular metered data plan on most US carriers. For example, AT&T charges $20 additional per month to activate it, and adds 2 gb to the monthly allocation as part of the plan. So, more bandwidth if you tend to use a lot on your phone, but for just occasional use, it's an expensive option.

i've heard that (on AT&T) you can get that activated for a couple days at a time (say, when you're traveling), and they'll prorate the fee.

We do, but the carriers will want $20-25/month from you if you try to enable the feature. It's rather lame, wanting to charge you again to use data you're already paying form especially in this era of data plans being capped anyway,

This nonsense is easy enough to get around with on Android (many third-party ROMs have Android's built-in tethering feature enabled) or BlackBerry (this Tether company makes a BlackBerry app that worked well for me in the past.)

There is no way Apple will keep this up if it snuck through review.

Seems to have been pulled from the UK app store. It was there this morning but no longer.

Hopefully a glitch rather than full exclusion, but my gut tells me I should have bought it this morning.


Except iOS has tethering, it's just disabled on AT&T. Says more about the US mobile market than it does about iOS.

it's not even disabled on AT&T, you just have to pay extra for it.

Actually, even that isn't entirely accurate anymore. Apparently tethering is included in the new 4GB data plan (which is $45, to the 2GB plan's $25).

In the meantime in France we're still getting raped: tethering on Orange is 8€ for 200MB/month or 25€ for 1GB/month, and that's atop a 45€/month 2h voice+1GB data (phone-only) plan.

exactly. I've got an ancient (2nd gen) iPhone on which I spend about $30 prepaid and it's been tethering fine for years. I know, because I use the tethering regularly

Curious, I often bring an iPhone to the USA and put a prepaid SIM in it when I get there, last few times I got an AT&T SIM, the tethering option vanished from my preferences. With a TMobile SIM, I can tether, but only at EDGE data rates, not 3G. (Last trip, I use AT&T in the iPad and tMobile in the phone, seemed to be my most cost effective set of options)

TMobile uses different frequencies, which is why you'll only get EDGE data rates with that TMobile SIM.

Can't help, sorry. My experience is with Telstra in Australia

Let's see. Android phones with unrestricted Tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot are Nexus One, Nexus S and presumably Galaxy Nexus.

Tethering on any Droid phones are encumbered by Verizon. You have to pay the tethering plan to have this feature enabled. The same goes AT&T Android phones with "crippled" tethering capabilities.

iPhone supported carrier-sanctioned tethering pre-iOS 4 (iOS 3.x in 2010), just not in the US with AT&T. Different carriers handle it differently.

Android phones on T-Mobile have tethering enabled. At least my still-locked HTC G2 does. As far as I know, I'm not paying extra for it.

That's because T-Mobile allows it. I mentioned specifically Verizon and AT&T for locking the features. I'm not sure how Sprint deals with the whole tethering.

As far as we know T-Mobile is a lot more "customer friendly" since they're running 4th out of the big 4 Wireless provider in the US.

Doesn't side-loading tethering apps work on Verizon (and newer AT&T phones)?

Of course, they can still get you via traffic analysis and other tricks, but that is a different sort of issue.

Azilink is awesome on Android:


Have never had an issue with it.

I think Google gets away in part because the telcos are afraid of Apple. Similarly with how Amazon got DRM-free content at a lower price because the labels wanted to create some competition to iTunes.

Other than the US, are there any other places in the world where "tethering" even exists as a concept?

will it work on iPad?

And its already gone. Nobody saw that coming.

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