56 Comments

Summary:

It’s definitely iPad Mania, with information about the new slate from Apple everywhere you turn. Steve Jobs dashed the hopes of those wanting to tether the iPad to the iPhone. That won’t stop me. I will be tethering my iPad from day one. So can you.

iPad thumb

It’s definitely iPad Mania, with information about the new slate from Apple everywhere you turn. It was even big news at the Oscars, with more people online pointing to the iPad commercial that aired during the Oscars than those listing who won awards. That’s the way it felt, anyway. Also big news in the iPad space is how Steve Jobs killed the dreams of millions with a single word. When asked if the iPad could be tethered to the iPhone, his Jobsness answered a curt “no” in response, thus dashing the hopes of future iPad owners hoping to get by with a Wi-Fi version of the slate. While Jobs may be telling the truth about tethering to the iPhone, it’s not the only game in town. I plan on tethering my Wi-Fi-only iPad from day one, and so can you.

I’m no Steve Jobs but when asked if I can tether the iPad, I have a one word answer too. “MiFi“. Yes, I will be tethering the 3G-less iPad to my MiFi from the unboxing. While Apple may have the intention of preventing iPad owners who don’t spring for the pricier (and one month delayed) 3G version of the slate from using a 3G connection, they can’t stop us. Since the MiFi shares the 3G love over Wi-Fi, the iPad cannot prevent it. The 3G connection will just look like any other Wi-Fi hotspot, even though of my own making.

Apple may take active steps to prevent tethering the iPad to a phone using a Bluetooth connection. That wouldn’t surprise me as they try to protect sales of the 3G models, along with the data plan from AT&T. No matter how hard they try they can’t stop tethering over Wi-Fi without limiting the usefulness of the iPad. We have Apple right where we want them. Sure we do.

Those who don’t have a MiFi or Sprint Overdrive needn’t fret. Many phones — the U.S. model of the iPhone currently excluded — have utilities that allow tethering the 3G connection over Wi-Fi, just like the MiFi. Again, the iPad will see a Wi-Fi hotspot, not an evil tethered connection. Sorry Jobs, but we gotta have some 3G on the iPad. Even without your help.

Image courtesy of Apple

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. Exactly what I plan to do if I purchase an iPad — or an iPod Touch, for that matter.

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  2. Works for those who already own a Mi-Fi, otherwise a Mi-Fi requires a new $60/mo data plan.

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    1. Every phone platform has a Wi-Fi tethering app, I believe.

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      1. In the UK, 3 is selling the MiFi on pay as you go for £50. I already have a data stick from 3, and I just bought the MiFi, swapped the SIM from it with my old data stick on, and it worked first time.

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  3. I just picked up the le1700, and you can tether, 1080P video works fine, SD card reader, No camera, but I can live without it, for just under $400.00.
    But the best part is that I can install applications and run them at the same time, no need to shut down, they call it muti-tasking, I think, should be really big in a few years, Apple will re-invent that some day.

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  4. I already have a Mi-Fi so I’ll do that anyway. But otherwise Apple/AT&T are offering a really good deal on the data. Remember the Mi-fi is $60 per month for only 5 GB (that does exhaust itself if you use it as your primary source of WiFi – as my friend in the country does), whereas the data plan for the iPad is $30 for unlimited data. The clincher is that the plan is minus a contract – Verizon tied me in for 2 years.

    Not a valid comparison, but my point is Apple/AT&T are offering a fair deal on the data so we should not complain too much about the lack of tethering…

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    1. It is a good deal but totally tied to the iPad.

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    2. Hi Anthony – apples and oranges. MiFi enables multiple devices to access Internet. The iPad $30 plan is tied to the iPad. Two different pricing models and two different services.

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  5. Help me – I think I need therapy. I have a Mifi, but I’m still considering a 3G plan (mainly because I know, or at least think, I can turn it on or off in any given month, and not tied to a contract). The thought of integrated always connected service, getting exchange mail, and traveling lighter (not that the Mifi is cumbersome in size or anything), and not having to worry about the battery life of the Mifi when I run out. I was thinking the $15 plan on pure convenience, and if I’m going to do Slingbox streaming or something else bandwidth hogging, I can break out the Mifi. Isnt there something else you can only get (aside from more fees) on the 3G model, as far as apps. Is there something wrong with me? Help! :)

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    1. I believe the 3G iPad also has GPS.

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      1. I’d like to see the windshield mount for that!

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    2. GFL – Any plan that you turn off and on in a given month is going to hit you with an activation charge (assume $30 or $35) each time you turn it on… Unfortunately contract-free doesn’t mean activation fee-free.

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      1. And your smoking what? There is NO activation fee. Freaking do a little reading before throwing false rumors around.

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  6. The problem with the Mifi is that you will need two SIM cards associated to the same internet bonus in order to use the iPhone and the iPad+Mifi. With tethering in the iPad you could save one internet bonus.

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  7. Tethering has begun to lose its meaning, and this post demonstrates why it can be confusing. Tethering to me once meant hooking up your smartphone to another system via a cable to share its Internet connection. It was literally tethered, like a tether ball to a post. Bluetooth tethering was a literal less literal, but you were still using a connection technology – Bluetooth or a USB cable – to provide an unrelated service, connection to the Internet.

    Connecting an IPad – or a laptop, or a desktop, or any wifi capable device – to a MiFi or to another device with MiFi-like software is no more tethering than connecting the same device to a router in your home. It’s connecting it to a wifi network. It hould go without saying: The IPad is wifi enabled and can connect to a wifi network.

    The IPhone can’t share its Internet connection via wifi or its USB cable, from what I understand.

    The IPad likely can’t connect to the Internet via a cable either, by design.

    The IPad has WiFi and can connect to a WiFi network – whether that’s your home network, a MiFi, or a Pre Plus.

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    1. I hear what you’re saying but I still find it to be tethering. I. e. connecting a computer to a phones 3G connection. Same thing, just a different sharing mechanism.

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      1. It’s a matter of the device’s perspective then*:

        • The IPhone can’t be tethered via wifi (or any other mechanism)
        • The PrePlus can be tethered via wifi (as can the Pre, using 3rd party software)
        • WindowsPhones can be tethered via wifi using HTC’s free software or any number of other tools

        The I-Pad, or any other device with wifi built in, isn’t doing anything special by connecting to these devices. It’s using its wifi capability as intended.

        Tethering via USB or bluetooth typically requires special software on the client device – it’s and active participant.

        I think describing as tethering the passive active of connecting to a WiFi network that happens to connect to the Internet via 3G (rather than DSL or cable) is un-necessary, confusing, and dilutes the usefulness of what is – for now – a useful term (tethering).

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      2. My laptop’s right now tethered to my Netgear switch via an Ethernet cable :)

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      3. Rob is absolutely right. Tethering and using a WiFi connection are two completely different things. Of course you can connect your iPad to any WiFi signal – whether that’s a home router, MiFi, repeated signal, etc. “Tethering” means you’re using the internet connection from a phone to provide internet access – over the native protocol, not wifi – to another device. This can be done through the use of a USB cable or via Bluetooth. Once a internet signal has been “converted” to WiFi, it’s no longer tethering – you’re just connecting via WiFi. What people want to do is use that native 3G connection from their phones (that they’re already paying an arm and a leg for) to provide internet to their iPads. There are several ways to do this… a little google searching will come up with many different options. But none of them involve WiFi, and that’s not what “tethering” means.

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      4. It’s not tethering. The Mi-Fi is a mobile wi-fi hotspot. “Connecting a computer to a phones 3G connection” via USB or BlueTooth is called tethering. Using the phones 3G connection to provide 802.11 services is basically turning the phone into a Mi-Fi which as I mentioned is a 802.11 hotspot. I don’t see the word tethering anywhere.

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  8. Cupertino Engineer Monday, March 8, 2010

    Be careful !, using a competing product such as the Verizon MiFi router may make Steve angry and the last thing you want is to get on the wrong side of an Apple “issue”.

    Technically the iPad CAN stop access to MiFi by blocking the hostID portion of Verizon MAC address built into every MiFi circuit board and other unique characteristics of such devices. So if Steve gives the order than your end-around-ATT-3G solution will be toast immediately.

    Be advised that Apple has no intention of disabling MiFi connectivity at this time but they do reserve that right in the future to protect the usage model of their products.

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    1. Marketplace viability of that option = zero, my friend.

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    2. Dear Cupertino Engineer — what would the WiFi Alliance say if Apple decided that their WiFi-labeled product is deliberatedly incompatible with select other member products? I could imagine that’s frowned upon as it severely damages the interoperability premise behind WiFi…

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      1. Sandra Bullock Monday, March 8, 2010

        I think MAC address blocking/filtering has been featured in WiFi products since day one. Apple can also block IP access to Verizon gateway servers if need be to protect iPad integrity. It could get nasty but Apple will and should maintain absolute control of how their patented product is used. I assume they will allow all types of WiFi to start because they want to achieve critical mass with this new product. However once Apple owns this new market sector all bets are off since they hold all the cards. This is just the way it is. I am sure Apple Engineers can terminate end-user methods used to circumvent their usage agreements anytime they choose. Bottom Line: Apple knows exactly what it is doing here, chill out everybody and hold on for the wonderful ride.

        iPad = slate computing done right

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      2. You mean like how the USB-IF cared when Apple deliberately blocked webOS from interfacing with iTunes based on manufacturer and product ID’s?

        Really though, there’s no way they’re going to cripple the WiFi on the iPad in any way.

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      3. @Sandra Bullock — and where would I find that “usage agreement” you’re speaking of? Will I have to agree to only connect my iPad to WiFi routers that Apple explicitly blesses somewhere? Will I be allowed to use a Netgear or DLink router at home, or do I have to buy Apple’s own Airport Express? Will I be allowed to connect to a T-Mobile hotspot, or am I limited to AT&T hotspots?

        Clearly, this type of restriction is never going to fly. And it’s ridiculous to say that Apple should maintain absolute control of how their patented product is used. I pay for the device, so I get to use it (within the limits of the law) however I want. If Apple markets and sells the iPad with WiFi support, I’ll claim the right to connect it to a WiFi router of my choosing. And if that router happens to be receiving its bits from Verizon’s or Sprint’s network, frankly, that isn’t any of Apple’s business.

        @Mighael — entirely different story, IMO. Apple doesn’t sell iTunes with the claim of being compatible with any USB phone/MP3 player. They just use the USB for their proprietary protocol, which Palm happened to also implement. You could argue (and I would) that Apple’s iTunes has become such a defacto standard (just like MS Windows) that it’s unfair to anti-competitive to not permit 3rd parties to interface with it.

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    3. “Be advised that Apple has no intention of disabling MiFi connectivity at this time but they do reserve that right in the future to protect the usage model of their products.”

      Not true at all.

      The usage model is wifi, not “wifi from your home” or “wifi from the book store”. It’s wifi. Whatever is upstream is of no interest to Apple.

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  9. There is something wrong when I can’t tether an iPad to an iPhone, but I can tether it to my Windows Mobile phone

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    1. People still use Windows Mobile phones?!

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  10. Could you elaborate on that comment about the US version of the iPhone not having a MiFi-like app? Do iPhones in other countries have an Apple-approved version? I am aware of “MyWi” (and there may well be others) that require a jailbreak, which isn’t exactly something that gives me sleepless nights.

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    1. Data tethering became native functionality with iPhone OS 3. Around two dozen carriers around the world support it, but here in the U. S., AT&T doesn’t yet.

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      1. What?! OS 3 is out? ;)

        jokes aside, I knew that, but didn’t think exposes 3G MiFi-like via Wifi. Quick glance at http://www.apple.com/iphone/iphone-3gs/tethering.html shows USB and BT. Will have to look into it some when I get to a bigger screen than this iPhone ;)

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