back to article iPad tethering does disappearing trick

The last iOS beta for iPad had tethering, but that feature appears to have vanished, prompting speculation that it will fall under the control of the network operator. The new version of iOS 4 is due out next month, bringing the multitasking and folders already available on the iPhone to the iPad. Beta versions have been …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup. Buy an Apple iPad if you like being locked into Sir Steve's whimsy

    Buy anything else if you want free choices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      Never heard that one before.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      is falling "under the control of the network operator" anything like "...being locked into Sir Steve's whimsy"? I know a troll is going to troll and haters always hate, but your polemic is misdirected. I mean, it's not as if Google, RIM, or Nokia do this too, or that Microsoft will give the same level of control to the carriers either, is it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        is falling "under the control of the network operator" anything like

        No. Because the Network operator won't tell you you can't run flash on your phone. Nor will tethering work on iOS, as per Sir Steve's instructions. The network operator typically doesn't give a crap...

      2. Dazed and Confused


        Every Nokia I've ever owned has let me connect my laptop to the Internet through the phone.

        Are you trying to tell me that Apples can't!

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Read what I actually posted before you get all smartarsed! What I was inferring is that *every* single manufacturer of mobile phones and mobile OS's let operators fuck about with the devices. More often than not this is worse than mere disabling the option to tether the device, which since this was in beta for the iPad version of iOS, it's essentially vapourware, rendering this whole article, and by extension this comment thread, moot.

          "Are you trying to tell me that Apples can't!" Come on, surely you can troll better than that. I'll give you a start point, apparently the antenna is a bit ropey...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple is not a network provider

      It would cost Apple nothing to enable tethering on all iOS devices (or make them all hotspots). It could do it in the blink of an eye, and I'm certain Steve Jobs would be delighted to do so. But Apple doesn't do this because it recognises it can't give away someone else's business. It would be parasitic, like giving away music, film, or books that you don't own.

      Google doesn't bother to recognise the rights and ownership of other businesses, but this will bite it (and its customers) in the end. Google is hurting many businesses with its free-loading behaviour, but it's little better than theft. Yes, you can jail-break my phone and enable tethering. But it's stealing, just like downloading music or software I didn't pay for.

      We should recognise (and applaud) the way Apple works with its suppliers. Apple provides good business opportunities not only for itself, but for the music, film, news, and software development industries. Note how Apple's store runs only just above the break-even point.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        >Yes, you can jail-break my phone and enable tethering. But it's stealing

        Since the network providers charge you for the data you use why is it stealing?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Taking what isn't yours is theft

          AC wrote: "Since the network providers charge you for the data you use why is it stealing?"

          If your contract explicitly forbids tethering (which many do), then jail-breaking a phone to have unauthorised tethering is theft. You are depriving the operators of the ability to sell tethering packages.

          Note that I am not commenting on the fairness of this arrangement. I agree that if you pay for data, it doesn't matter how you use that data. But I don't operate a network either, and it isn't my choice to make. Nor does it change the fact that unauthorised use is theft.

          1. The Other Steve

            Maybe not theft

            But certainly breach of contract, and if your provider catches you at it they are well within their rights to terminate your service. Possibly invoking penalty clauses. Caveat emptor, and ALWAYS read the contract.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              #Maybe not theft.....

              >Caveat emptor, and ALWAYS read the contract.

              I rarely read the contract - if you're paying for a data allowance and such terms are not very explicitly laid out at purchase time what they hide away in T&C matters little. Since tethering is an inherent function of modern smartphones its very unlikely they could enforce such a ban and terminating your contract, certainly mine, would be a rather costly mistake.

              UK law recognises that consumers are not lawyers, the longer and more legalese the small print, the less weight it carries when it comes to the crunch.

              1. Anonymous Coward

                Re: Maybe not theft

                Just because you believe it, doesn't make it so.

                You're right about UK law recognising that consumers are not lawyers, that's why contracts have to be written in clear and legible english.

                This decision does not mean that you can be a lazy f*ck and choose not to read the contract. You signed it, it's binding (apart from a few circumstances).

                The operator may not decide to enforce the contract (Depending on the 'breach', it could be more costly to pursue than to simply write off), but the fact remains that if you signed the contract, you're tied to it. The only get out is "That's not written very clearly, I thought it meant ......" and even then you may get stiffed.

                Saying "I didn't understand what that term meant" generally results in you being told that you should have asked.

                Just my 2p, it's not me that's taking big risks with contracts!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Nor does it change the fact that unauthorised use is theft.

            Sorry? Use of MY device must be AUTHORIZED?? I paid for it. The network operator makes his money back in spades. Moreover, the mere fact that tethering is actually an advertised fact from several networks that are all up in the new HTC handsets puts it in a very different shade of light. More tethering means more using of the expensive data access. More use of data access means more money to the network. More money to the network means more improvements (hopefully) to the infrastructure.

            Tell me who's losing out here?

            OT: You know, I took a look through your previous comments on other area's.. and it's an interesting read. I have never seen anyone with so many downvotes before.. a talent indeed.

            Makes some sense now that I read the froth that you've spewed all over this forum.

            1. The Other Steve


              "Moreover, the mere fact that tethering is actually an advertised fact from several networks that are all up in the new HTC handsets puts it in a very different shade of light"

              That is supremely irrelevant to an imaginary feature of iOS 4.2 on the iPad.

              Oh and the reason you haven't seen anyone with so many down votes as the OP is because you post AC.

              1. Anonymous Coward

                @Stevie Wonders

                The point about HTC is that operators are actually AVERTISING tethering with the HTC handsets as a sell point. Thus, they do actually see a benefit in selling it (most lately the EVO in the US).

                Second (and I encourage any forum admin to confirm/deny); I have about a quarter of all my posts downvoted (out of several hundred, that's a pretty low figure). Given that you might just get some ideas and downvote -this- post with all your buddies accounts to prove a point; that figure may change.

                Third, I go AC when there's an obvious bias in the thread. I read this "Oh and the reason you haven't seen anyone with so many down votes as the OP is because you post AC" - and immediately what is apparent is a thinly veiled threat to go downvote all my previous posts out of spite. True/false I don't care - I don't have the time to play kids games at the moment. But you go on ahead...

          3. Manu T


            Great. Instead of fueling technological achievements they're holding back development for their own greed.

            We're doomed!

        2. Giles Jones Gold badge

          Data is free on some providers

          They don't all, many have an allocation of a few gig a month. Giffgaff is truly unlimited if you buy their £10 goodybag, even without one you can do 100MB a day.

          They simply don't want to give you bundled data and then have you use it for mobile broadband. Using a phone and doing RDP, VPN etc is additional strain when they were just expecting some casual email or web access.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        >>But Apple doesn't do this because it recognises it can't give away someone else's business. It would be parasitic, like giving away music, film, or books that you don't own.

        Um, just what business is it giving away? You need to access a wireless network in some way - tethering will mean MORE business to a cellular provider in fact.

        Second, how do you equate IP theft to tethering? That's like equating cowshit to dropped calls. Are you nuts or just an idiot?

        >>Yes, you can jail-break my phone and enable tethering. But it's stealing, just like downloading music or software I didn't pay for

        Stealing what exactly? It's my hardware. Who the feck are you to tell me how to use it, what software I may or may not run on it, and what third party supplies I may or may not run on it? Did you escape recently from the cuckoo's nest or are you a paying resident? Yeah, going more to the idiot end I think..

        >>We should recognise (and applaud) the way Apple works with its suppliers

        Uhh say what? Apple's dealing with it's suppliers is in what way connected to the strong-arm tactics it pulls on network providers? Further, Apple has shown nothing but contempt for network operators since it's first iPhone came out - and yes, I can speak from experience having worked for a very popular cellular provider at the time.

        Again, I'm leaning to the idiot meter.. say hi to your god and king Steve "control freak" Jobs when you next pray to him...

      3. Heff

        I'll be blunt; you're an idiot.

        google approaches network operators that sell the phones and say "we arent going to cripple our device for your whims" and then the network operator decides what they want to pay for it and how much they want to sell it for.

        Jobsie says "I'll do fucking anything for your approval, just buy as many damned units as possible without hurting my products percieved elite status"

        "note how apples store run only just above break even point"

        Note this you muppet;

        The app store can lose money. hell, they can run that thing at a massive loss and make money on the handsets. you want to malign google? BUT THEY'VE BEEN LETTING YOU USE THE SEARCH THING FOR FREE FOR AGES!!

      4. Tempest

        "Note how Apple's store runs only just above the break-even point."

        Geez, at their exorbitant commission rates something must be wrong. Personally I would think Apple is cooking the books.

        I need a new box of tissues because I feel tears coming on that Jobs is not gouging the suckers as usual.

    4. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Back to reality

      iPad and iPhone are sold with standard Apple firmware, no operator is allowed to bastardise it like they have done to other brands.

      What happens is the feature is enabled if allowed by the "operator", i,e, the network you are on. It is they who control if tethering is allowed. Having the ability to switch this on or off is a concession that Apple make to the operator. Other brands just let the operators remove it completely from the firmware, leaving you with a device you either have to reflash (although some handsets auto-revert the firmware now - thanks HTC) even if you change operators.

      Sure, some Android phones have mobile access point software built in. However read your network operators T&Cs and you're probably breaking the rules if you use it. If you rack up enough traffic they have the option to just disconnect or charge you extra.

  2. zooooooom

    Not just IOS...

    Orange also seem to have disaabled tethering (and the new mobile hotspot) in androiod 2.2. Of course, they will shortly be selling 'tethering budles' real soon now.

    Of course being Android, you can at least switch it back on yourself.....

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Any chance

      they'll release Android updates for earlier devices - thought not...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        #Any Chance

        Depends who you mean by they.......if your device has the necessary hardware, essentially a GPU/DSP it will run a later build.

        Nice thing about Android is you don't need to wait for telcos and manufacturers, open source means community releases are plentiful. Though there's no reason why manufacturers and telcos can't support their older models, beyond self-interest - Google has done most of the hard work for them.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so bothered about tethering ...

    Couldn't give a hoot about it, to be honest.

    However, having recently encountered the folder functionality, courtesy of a newly purchased iPod Touch, it can't appear on the iPad quickly enough for me

    1. Annihilator

      Handy demo in Dixons

      Was in an airport the other day and had a little play on a demo iPad. I was pleased to see that some kind soul had already jailbroken it, installed Cydia, and the Bosspref equivalent of folders. I did chortle to myself at the ingenuity of whoever got there first..

      Why wait for Apple's folders??

  4. Anonymous Coward

    this is a letter: a and this is a digit: 1

    "laptops aren't clever enough to restrict major updates to when one has a WiFi or cabled connection"

    More like Windows isn't nice enough to ask users if the want to download major updates on the spot. My boxen would never connect to the net without me instructing them to do so.

    I'm actually glad that laptops are only as clever as the user handling them. After all this is our single most effective defense strategy against the RotM.

    1. Mark Serlin


      What, apart from the easily accessed update settings where you can specify - er - whether to notify, download, or download and install?

  5. Tom Chiverton 1

    "Giving operators the option of disabling tethering makes sense"

    yeah, not to the users though...

    1. Mark Broadhurst

      "Giving operators the option of disabling tethering makes sense"

      I don't see why operators are so against it surly they just need to sort out the price and stop selling limited "unlimited" deals.

    2. The Other Steve

      Not to the users though ?

      Oh hell yes to the users. 3G networks are already congested, and it can only get worse if you're using your unlimited plan to stream audio over the air all the livelong day and hogging all the bandwidth.

      So maybe not to 'heavy use' users, but to everyone else. And the heavy use crew need to get used to paying more for the extra.

  6. Red Bren

    Gateway Device

    "We can't help feeling that anyone using an iPad as a gateway device, providing internet access to their laptop, has rather missed the point"

    Its not just laptops that want to share an internet connection. As an example, my TomTom rider used tethering to get traffic updates. It doesn't anymore because iPhones/iPads don't support the Bluetooth DUN profile, TomTom doesn't support the PAN profile, and I'm not paying for an extortionate tethering plan for the sake of a few kilobytes of data.

  7. Velv

    Blame the Operators

    It is entirely the Operators fault.

    Unlimited data should be unlimited. 500MB should be 500MB. The source of the request should be irrelevant, be it phone, tablet, laptop - the SIM owner has paid for a chunk of data, and should be able to use that chunk.

    And let's face it - if you're smart enough to tether your laptop to your phone, you're smart enough to understand that your laptop AND your phone are going to use more data than just your phone - possibly more data than you've paid for (yes, OK, so your unlimited isn't unlimited, but perhaps if more people hit the limit the Operators would stop lying about "Unlimited".)

    1. Mark Broadhurst

      I couldn't agree more.

      How this type of thing is not false advertising is beyond me.

    2. copsewood
      Big Brother

      Tethering is none of their business

      We used to have to put up with this kind of crap in contracts for fixed line domestic ISP use, e.g. telling us the connection could be used for a single computer only. So when I first configured a router on my connection to serve multiple computers I cloned the ethernet card MAC address on the router interface so the ISP couldn't tell any difference. Nowadays they don't bother, and even go so far as to throw in a router when you order a fixed connection.

      It seems we now have to educate the mobile data carriers that we also don't appreciate them telling us how to use the data capacity they supply. Sure 500MB/month should mean that, and let them provide different rates at different prices and rate limit to keep you minimally connected if you use your allowance too quickly. But for a mobile operator to tell us what we can and can't use the bandwidth we pay them for is unwelcome interference in matters which are none of their business.

  8. Cameron Colley

    How many devices?

    It does seem odd to me that you would want to tether something to your tablet. As I see it you would generally tether your tablet, or laptop, to your phone -- so that you only pay one "tethering" data contract (which may be a rip-off, but that's a different) story. Is there a reason one would have two data contracts? And, if so, why not just buy a "3g wireless access point" and

    run everything from it?

  9. Greg D

    tethering is stealing?

    yeah, cos using the data plan you bought from your network provider (paid for with actual money) is stealing? right... your logic comes from where exactly?

  10. Monty Burns

    lol - folders, really?

    I've just googled (as I don't own an iPhone) what "Folders" are all about. Really? Are you serious? You lot telling me you never had that until recently?

    lol - and you have the cheek to tell Winmob people that there O/S is crap! So, apart from the gui, your STILL playing catchup with Winmob 5....

    Honestly, I am tempted for a Dell Venue but, having more and more thoughts about staying with Winmob 6.5

    lol - folders......

    (runs away putting on a fireproof one... ooops, fell over, all that laughing...)

    1. Matt Bradley

      Stick with WinMob

      Yeah. You should definitely stick with Winmob. It sounds like it is working really well for you.


      Sent from my iPhone

    2. Manu T

      lol- folders, realy?

      Actually I'm thinking along the same lines. I was drawn to a HTC Desire android phone but after seeing how operators and HTC messes up their recent Android toys (not to mention Motorbrola with their lock-in), I decided to skip Android altogether.

      I'm still thinking of giving Nokia/Symbian Foundation my heart (and a bit of my money).

      But atm I'll just stick with my WM6.1 device. It has folders, I can tether my laptop when needed, it has a full emailclient, it does multitasking since I got it in 2008, it has a led that I can EASILY use as a torch, it even takes decent pics, records calls AUTOMATICALLY, not to mention I power on my PC with over wifi (WOL) or accesses my XP shared folders over Wifi . Hell, there's no technological reason to ditch this phone. Appart from it's lo-res TFT screen (400x240) and slower cpu (624Mhz Marvel)

      It seems that technology is moving backwards. Soon we'll end up with phones with superfast cpus and super duper AMOTFTHGTERFG-screens but with less functionality than an ancient Nokia 3100 :-(

      But hey, look at these backgrounds... they're awesome... not!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'm no apple fanboi - but winmob 5? I've just been given a phone with it on, I've never seen such a pile of unusable rubbish in my life!

  11. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    clever laptops, dumb users?

    "laptops aren't clever enough to restrict major updates to when one has a WiFi or cabled connection"

    I'm pretty sure it's not a problem with the machines here. Now whether the users are clever enough to make it so is another problem. Well, if users cared at all in the first place, that is.

    Hey, I'm pretty sure that some people out there would/do choose to do major updates and heavy downloads on their unlimited data link on purpose, to avoid paying for it in their capped internet connexion.

  12. heyrick Silver badge

    Who is conning who?

    So it is "stealing" to tether together devices to share a connection; however it is perfectly fine to have an "unlimited" data package with many limitations in the small print? What a skewed view of reality. Can those who think tethering is stealing please enlighten me as to why it matters *what* the hell you do with your X Mb allocation?

    1. Matt Piechota
      Thumb Down

      Post anonymously?

      > Can those who think tethering is stealing please enlighten me as to why it matters *what* the hell you do with your X Mb allocation?

      Because the contract you entered into when activating your service says it does. Simple as that. You can't just ignore portions of the agreement any more than the guy building you house can ignore the part about putting a roof on.

      You can argue that it isn't fair, or some operator should allow you to do what you want with your bandwidth, but you're in a legal agreement that says you can't.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        You signed it, you stick with it!

        Yeah I know it's not nice, in fact I have to agree it's a crock of shite, a bit steaming crock, but if you step outside then the operator can ask you one simple question. "Didn't you read it, before you signed it?"

        What are you going to say? "Yeah I did, but to my mind I can....", to which they will say, "To your mind? Er, no sir. You see in paragraph 784 section 4, sub-section F, you mean you never read this bit? Well, it says you fuck with it, we will take you to the cleaners if we choose to. OK?"

        Utter shite I agree, but no one makes you sign anything, at the end of the day it's your choice. You know before you set foot in any high street shop, the chips are generally stacked in the shop's favour. You have rights, but the shop has the key to giving you a big rush of endorphins when you want some shiny!

  13. The Other Steve

    Not at all surprising

    Speculating on the final feature set based on odd things that appear in any of the betas is utterly futile, wait for the GM seed.

  14. semprance


    "and laptops aren't clever enough to restrict major updates to when one has a WiFi or cabled connection."

    I wish my laptop was psychic like yours. Suggested correction: "Laptop users aren't clever enough to ... "

    I'm sure that Apple wouldn't be so shrewd as to act the fool up until the latest release about whether operators will appreciate tethering options. No-one likes having features removed from any software so they'd have been better off not including it in the first place. Makes me wonder how many people made buying decisions based on such features though.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. The Other Steve

      they don't write 'tethering disabled' in the spec. list now do they?

      Yes they do. This comment thread has been particularly unfettered by clue requirements.

  16. Brian 20
    Jobs Horns

    Wallpapers in favour of tethering?

    Imagine going to the garage, only to find out they removed your wheels. Oh well, at least you have a kick-ass new metallic paint!

  17. Legless


    The single most useful feature of my HTC Desire. A lifesaver at a recent conference where the provided wireless went down. So there I was with 6 colleagues all connected through my phone, wirelessly. Made me a popular bunny.

  18. Chris Beach

    Tethering != Strain

    Sorry but I fail to see how tethering affects the operator at all. You're not going to get any faster speeds, or any lower pings just because using a laptop instead of your phone.

    Due to the relative ease of use, your probably going to go through your unlimited allocation quicker, and then have to pay them more. But that's not a technical restriction.

    Put it another way, all operators sell mobile broadband dongles...which are nothing more than just the radio part of the its just greed they want to double charge you for doing nothing themselves.

    1. Manu T

      Tethering != Strain

      "your probably going to go through your unlimited allocation quicker"

      Which means they're NOT unlimitied?!!?

      Isn't this false advertising? Funny how in the US every jackshit goes to court for every piece of crap yet nobody reacts on this? I would have thought the big operators would have been sued to dead by now because of imposing limitations to their "unlimited" dataplans.

      Perhaps Apple is right here (following HTC to give more control to operators). Give the dumdasses some stupid backdrops instead of real technological advantage.

      1. mego

        @ Manu

        Most providers add an "fair use" policy to get around this legal quagmire. When broadband came to Ireland first, it was unlimited* (and the * pointed to "fair use policy applies"). One month I had done something like 3Gb downloads and was downgraded and charged for breaking fair use policy. The thing about fair use is that it can mean anything, and most often has nothing to do with fair..

        Lawyers are hired in the dozens to write those contracts specifically so that the average man cannot understand exactly why he's getting shived. I've even had lawyers complain to me about how hard to understand the terms and conditions are!

    2. Huey

      Re: Strain

      As always it's people taking the piss.

      Ok they shouldn't have said unlimited without at least stating a fair usage policy.

      It was reported here but google got graun's one first.

      .1% using 36% of the traffic. You can bet that of .1% most of them were tethered.

      1. Tom_B

        "people taking the piss."

        Taking the piss for thinking they can use as much data they want when they're in a contract for "unlimited" data...

        That makes no sense. Either operators need to stop offering "unlimited" packages or they need to actually make them unlimited.

  19. Jonathan White

    Wrong way round?

    is this about the 3G ipads providing tethering to other devices or the wifi ipads tethering to other providers via 3G or bluetooth when they're out of wifi range? The former seems rather niche, while the latter seems actually useful.

    I have a wifi only iPad (and a mifi, so it's not just personal interest here) and it doesn't support tethering either as a 'server' or 'client'. Just my opinion but i think there's more demand to tether ipads to phones than other things to ipads.

  20. Chris Pearson

    So what it I buy direct?

    If I buy my 3G enabled iPad/iPhone from Apple direct or some other non operator outlet do all these settings controlled by the operator still get controlled by the operator simply due the fact I have a Orange/O2/etc SIM?

    I am considering jumping from Android to Apple for various reasons and this is one thing I am trying to work out and how it affected me.

  21. Tempest
    Jobs Horns

    Bottom Line: Apple has no credibility

    As we say in North America: Indian Givers.

    The act of giving, ten taking back. See: < >. Fits Jobs to a 'T'.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

    -- Inigo Montoya

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Charging for tethering is a rip off

    HI, its like double billing you for internet service. You are already entitled to unlimited internet or you have a fixed charge for bandwidth. So they double charge you for a feature that should be included with the internet service.

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