Back in March, a series of reports from several blogs and publications claimed a WiFi-only iPad connected to an iPhone via Personal Hotspot was able to receive GPS data through the established connection, even if the iPad itself didn’t have any GPS capabilities. If GPS data was being transmitted thanks to Personal Hotspot, many speculated getting a 3G iPad was basically useless as the last advantage of internal GPS could be replaced by an iPhone and proper tethering. With Personal Hotspot and wireless GPS data transmission, many said, users could install navigation software on a WiFi-only iPad and obtain GPS points thanks, again, to Personal Hotspot and iOS 4.3. However, while the reports about WiFi iPads displaying semi-accurate locations in the Maps app were accurate, rumors about GPS and Personal Hotspot were quickly debunked as, it turned out, a WiFi iPad couldn’t rely on tethering for location purposes for more than a few minutes, as also demoed on video here. Rather, it seemed like a WiFi iPad could get location info while on the move thanks to WiFi access point and hotspot discovery — considering the recent debate on Apple and location cache, this doesn’t surprise anymore.
As it usually happens in the Apple community, though, what started as an inaccurate report or a simple proof of concept eventually turned into an app available for download on the App Store. AirLocation, a $0.99 universal app released today, enables WiFi iPad users to achieve the workflow described above: once connected to an iPhone using Personal Hotspot, an iPad running AirLocation will be able to fetch accurate GPS data from the iPhone and update your location in real-time as you move. AirLocation will have to run on the iPhone as well in order for the whole setup to work. I’ve personally tested the application during a 20-minute car trip to Viterbo, my town, and it really works as advertised: although AirLocation doesn’t come with all the features of the Maps app for iOS, it does keep track of your location in real-time on the iPad using GPS and it didn’t stop working after a few minutes. I could see the blue dot indicating my location moving on screen at the same time of the iPhone, which was transmitting data via Personal Hotspot.
AirLocation doesn’t come with many functionalities, but it does one thing well: getting accurate GPS data with iOS 4.3′s Personal Hotspot. Get it here.
Jeff Carlson at Tidbits has a great piece about many iPhone and iPad owners’ recent question: should your next iPad be a 3G one, or can you just use Personal Hotspot through your iPhone? In short: it depends on how much data you use and how many devices you could be able to connect to the Personal Hotspot. But overall, the hotspot functionality of iOS 4.3 sounds like a great plan if you already have an iPhone and know you’ll be doing a lot of iPad 3G surfing.
So, in the end, the Personal Hotspot approach will be cheaper for AT&T users who use lots of data, and more expensive for those who can stay within the lowest limits. And it’s exactly the reverse for Verizon Wireless users, for whom the Personal Hotspot approach is slightly better for lower bandwidth users, but more expensive once you go beyond 2 GB of data.
Personally, I’ve grown accustomed to having an Internet-connected iPad whenever I need it, whether that’s on a familiar Wi-Fi network or taking advantage of near-ubiquitous 3G coverage (in Seattle, where AT&T’s coverage is generally good). As for ease of use, the fact that the iPad remembers the iPhone’s network password, and that the iPhone switches into Personal Hotspot mode easily, leads me to think that adding the extra step of enabling the hotspot wouldn’t be onerous.
From my experience with 3 Italia’s network, I can say my next iPad is going to be a WiFi-only one. The setup is easy and the iPad remembers the Personal Hotspot password, plus you can leave the hotspot set to “on” even when you’re not using so you won’t have to re-enable every single time. The iPhone won’t consume battery and everything will be left as it is. Personal Hotspot is just too good for me to ever want a 3G iPad.
AT&T has confirmed it will offer the Personal Hotspot functionality starting March 11 with the release of iOS 4.3, but it looks like the functionality will be modified to work only with connections up to 3 devices. By default, Apple’s Personal Hotspot allows up to 5 devices to connect to a single iPhone sharing its 3G connection. A picture of an internal AT&T document posted by Engadget in fact suggests the carrier is going to restrict the usage of Personal Hotspot to only 3 incoming connections.
While it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up letting 5 people connect to your iPhone on a daily basis, it’s still interesting to study the possibility of AT&T limiting a feature so heavily promoted by Apple. Guess carriers do have some kind of control on the iPhone, after all. (Personally, I’m just happy 3 Italia is going to keep Personal Hotspot free to use for every iPhone owner)
Update: the image shared by Engadget doesn’t specify whether or not AT&T is simply following Apple’s implementation of Personal Hotspot, which allows 3 devices to connect using WiFi. It’s not clear from the leaked photo if AT&T didn’t mention the additional Bluetooth and USB connections, or is really enforcing Personal Hotspot on 3 devices simultaneously.
You can share your connection with up to five devices at once over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB — with up to three of those connections using Wi-Fi.4 Every connection is password protected and secure. And it’s power friendly, too. iPhone detects when your Personal Hotspot is no longer in use and turns it off to save battery life.
Here’s an interesting feature we didn’t know had been implemented on iOS 4.3 that has been brought to our attention this morning by German blog Macerkopf.de [Google Translation]: on the iOS 4.3 GM (released last night) you can start Personal Hotspot and let a second iPhone connect to use FaceTime over 3G.
Personal Hotspot creates a WiFi connection, but we know that’s actually a shared 3G one. Starting with an active 3G connection on the first iPhone running iOS 4.3, up to 5 other devices can connect to the Personal Hotspot, which is recognized in the Settings as a WiFi network. Macerkopf speculates that the fact that iPhones can connect to Personal Hotspot and use FaceTime is new to the 4.3 GM build seeded to developers yesterday.
I’ve tested this with my two iPhone 4s and a Mac running FaceTime, and it works. With the first iPhone, I made sure I had 3G active and created a WiFi network with Personal Hotspot. With the second iPhone 4, I connected to Personal Hotspot and called my Mac using FaceTime. It worked the other way around as well. Video quality and sound weren’t excellent (like I said, it’s a 3G connection) but definitely acceptable.
This is an interesting little detail because Apple doesn’t want you to use FaceTime over 3G. A number of Cydia tweaks surfaced in the past to overcome Apple’s restrictions, like Facebreak and My3G. But if you happen to have two iPhones (say, your wife’s) and you really need to use FaceTime on the go to call someone, Personal Hotspot will let you do that. Even if it’s actually a 3G connection, it appears that as long as the iPhone “sees” the network as a WiFi one, it’s fine. Clearly the second iPhone isn’t able to tell whether the connection comes from 3G or not.
We don’t know if this was possible on the previous betas of iOS 4.3, so if you’re still running one of those and the method works, please let us know in the comments below.
According to AppleInsider, a new report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities details the amount of different iPad 2 models that will be shipped in the “first wave” of the device’s introduction.
According to the report, 60% of these units will be 3G-enabled models, either GSM/UMTS units or iPads capable of running on CDMA/EVDO networks.
In speaking to AppleInsider, Kuo said his checks in the Far East indicate production figures of 38 percent for the K93 WiFi model, 46 percent of the K46 3G model, and 16 percent for the Verizon-compatible K95 CDMA version. This indicates that Apple apparently expects most iPad 2 users will opt for 3G models, even on Verizon where new iPhone buyers have the option to pay $20 for hotspot service through their new smartphone.
Last week, Ming-Chi Kuo claimed the iPad 2 won’t have a Retina Display but an anti-reflection screen similar to Amazon’s Kindle, iPod touch-like cameras and a faster processor. Right after the official announcement of the Verizon iPhone, a report suggested Verizon would start selling an iPad “that can connect directly to its network” soon. DigiTimes also reported the 60% of iPads shipped during the December timeframe were 3G models.
On a side note, iPad owners that also have an iPhone will soon be able to share an internet connection through their phone to the tablet thanks to the Personal Hotspot functionality that will be introduced with iOS 4.3. Undoubtedly, the ease of use of Personal Hotspot will make unnecessary for some to upgrade to a WiFi + 3G iPad model. It is unclear, though, how many carriers will support Personal Hotspot on launch.
MyWi, a popular app available in Cydia that allows users to turn their 3G-capable devices into mobile hotspots for internet tethering, was updated today to include a new functionality the Intelliborn developers call “On Demand”. The new feature, which can be unlocked for $4.99 following the $19.99 app purchase, allows iPhones and iPads to “understand” when the mobile hotspot feature needs to be activated, or disabled.
A problem with mobile hotspots on the iPhone, in fact, is that you can’t specify settings for when a WiFi connection becomes available and you can stop tethering to other devices. The new MyWi On Demand connects when you need it, and shuts down when you don’t. After the usual pairing session between the hotspot device (say, the iPhone) and a non-3G device like your iPad WiFi, the iPad will automatically join the internet connection shared by MyWi when no other option is available, and disconnect from MyWi when another connection is found (your home wireless connection, for example). The system is pretty smart and useful, especially considering that it easily lets you save dozens of MBs of data.
More details on MyWi On Demand can be found here, and you can check out the promo video below. Apple’s next major update to iOS, version 4.3, will introduce a similar functionality called “Personal Hotspot” that enables users to turn their iPhones into portable hotspots to share an internet connection. (more…)
Earlier today, Verizon confirmed the iPhone will launch on their network on February 10 with an initial unlimited data plan priced at $30; speaking to Macworld, Verizon Wireless’s Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Brenda Raney, confirmed that in order to use the Personal Hotspot feature provided by Apple iPhone users will have to pay $20 more:
Raney said that Verizon iPhone owners will be able to take advantage of the 3G wireless hotspot feature for an extra $20 per month on top of the iPhone’s required voice and data plans—that’s the same price that applies to current Verizon smartphone owners.
The hotspot feature comes with its own 2GB monthly data pool, separate from your iPhone’s data plan. That covers the use of any and all devices using your iPhone’s 3G data connection. The downside? Go over that amount, and each additional gigabyte will cost you another $20.
Personal Hotspot is a functionality that allows users to turn the iPhone into a mobile hotspot to share the 3G connectivity with nearby devices, via Bluetooth, USB or WiFi. The feature will officially debut with the Verizon iPhone (which at the time of the media event, was running an unreleased iOS 4.2.5 version) and it’s already been implemented in the iOS 4.3 developer betas. Carriers, however, will retain the ability to disable the functionality on their network, or charge extra fees in order to activate it.
Here’s an interesting rumor coming this morning from BGR: according to their source, iOS 4.3 will become available in March and will feature the Personal Hotspot functionality for all iPhones, although there will need to be carrier support. This means that iOS 4.3, according to BGR, will sport Personal Hotspot out of the box, but it’s up to a carrier like AT&T or Vodafone Italy to support it.
BGR also reports 4.3 will have build number 8F5148b, baseband will be 04.08.00 and “technical acceptance is planned for March”. It is unclear when we’ll see a developer beta for the next OS, and if AT&T in the US will support the hotspot feature.
Yesterday, both iPhoneclub.nl and iPhoneHellas reported Personal Hotspot would be available with a forthcoming iOS update for all GSM phones.
With the Verizon iPhone, Apple today showcased a new software feature that comes pre-installed with the slightly-redesigned device: Personal Hotspot. Already available for several Android devices running on Verizon’s network and made deeply integrated into iOS with a new software build, Personal Hotspot will allow you to create a mobile WiFi network to share your 3G connection with up to 5 nearby WiFi devices. The feature, put simply, looks great: you can activate wireless tethering with literally two taps and a password, or go with Bluetooth and USB tethering. As suggested by Apple’s Phil Schiller himself, Personal Hotspot makes for a great alternative to popular MiFi hotspots and will allow iPad owners to carry around an iPhone on Verizon’s network and have constant access to the Internet even if the iPad is WiFi-only. (more…)