Of Course You Can Tether the iPad


It’s definitely iPad Mania, with information about the new slate from Apple (s aapl) 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 (s 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 (s s) 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):



I don’t think people know what the term “tethering” really means. Tethering isn’t setting up a mobile WiFi hotspot, but rather communicating to a bluetooth device that has an internet connection.

Tethering usually means you have 2 bluetooth devices, one has internet, one doesn’t. So you use Bluetooth to between the 2 devices to allow both devices to access the internet. Thats the original term for tethering.


Support for iphone to ipad tethering will only come when the telcos allow combined data billing (as in home, mobile and other divice data all from the same data pool at one price) i don’t see the current arrangement changing any time soon its too profitable. Use a third party divice to create a Wi-Fi network or just buy the 3g ipad


I love my iPad. Want samsung Rant to G3 to be my wifi connection. Recommended downloads or software? Will it work? What do I need?


James, I have a Verizon BB Tour without WIFI. I have been using it to tether my laptop with the VZAccess Manager via blu tooth – works very well. Now if I were to buy a non 3G iPad, how do I make it work? Thanks.


I have the iPhone and once had a way to tether but after a visit into the apple store I can’t find where I had the capabilty? How can I tether my ipad with my iPhone 3g? Oh it was a 3gs but now it’s only showing 3g all the time…!


What about the other way around? I like the AT&T 3G plan. If I wait for the ipad with 3G, does anyone know if I will be able to set up the ipad as a network gateway so other devices connected through WIFI can access the internet through it?


I must be missing something. MyFi on iPhone requires the connecting device to be able to create an ad hoc network. The iPhone can’t share 3G over wifi and create an ad hoc network, and the iPad can’t create a network. I’m sure the modmyi guys will find some way, but for now, I’m quite certain you can not directly tether your iPhone and iPad, jailbroke or not. I’d love to be proved wrong.

Ps, I’m amazed how easy it is to to type on this thing.


Silly me – MiFi and MyFi are two different things….and apparently, I need a MiFi.


Matt, if you have your iPhone jailbroken you can purchase/try MyWi from Rock or Cydia (rock has the trial, Cydia doesn’t). It’s a one time purchase of $10, I believe. It works differently than some others… It sets up a broadcasting “hotspot”. Then you can connect your iPad to it just as you would any other wireless network.

Beach Bear

I am uploading this comment as a test with my new iPad connecting via JoikuSpot Light (free app) on my Nokia N97 Mini. In fact, almost all Nokia N-series and E-Series phones with Wi-fi can insantly become a wi-fi hot spot if you just install the JoikuSpot app. The CNET bandwidth meter shows current speed at 406.7 kbps while the N97 Mini is on AT&T HSPA.

My N97 Mini has the AT&T $30 unlimited data plan anyway. So the fuss about mi-fi plan cost is beyond me, perhaps UK specific.

So here is one usage scenario: next car pool I drive, my son and his friends using any wi-fi gadgets lacking built-in 3G modems, be it iPad basic, iPod Touch, or laptops, will be sharing the mobile internet connection via my N97 Mini hot spot, courtesy of Nokia smart phones’ generous wi-fi capability.


So, how does this enable iPhone to iPad tethering? I thought that was what the issue is here?


@Tom – it doesn’t. There is no tethering between the iPhone and iPad.


Hi James,

Jobs wasn’t implying that the iPad couldn’t be used with a MiFi or CradlePoint device or any other 3GWiFi hardware or software. The Wifi-only iPad can obviously talk to any wifi access point and if that access point is a 3G router, then it’s got Internet. Jobs was answering with respect to the question of directly tethering the iPad to the iPhone for Internet access. There’s no interest or intention by Apple to prevent WiFi-only iPad users from getting on the Internet with a 3G connection. There’s no reason for them to care. They do however have an interest in not allowing iPad tethering via the iPhone, and that’s what he was referring to. I think you might have taken his statement too literally.


Carl Spackler

Some of you are making the mistake that just because Apple iPad supports an open standard (WiFi) that the device itself is open and you can do anything you want with it. Sorry but..ummm…NO! The iPad is a Closed System and Apple (in particular Mr. Steven Jobs) will determine how the device it builds can be used. End of Story. The implicit usage agreement for the iPad is a “living” agreement between Steve and you, the buyer. It is at Steve’s sole discretion to modify this contract at anytime he desires. Your part in this commitment is to abide by this agreement upon purchasing your iPad and enjoy the Apple experience.

It appears to me that Apple wants the iPad used as a Consuming device that will consume content (usually for a fee) from many different content providers. Tethering is a side issue that Apple may clamp down on if they determine it is being used to circumvent Apple’s revenue model for this device.

So in the end it is Steve who will decide this and not the consumer. If Mr. Jobs decides you don’t need tethering, than guess what, YOU DON’T NEED TETHERING. If you have a problem with this then you are free to shop elsewhere.

You have to realize when you buy an Apple product you are buying into an entire ecosystem and not just a simple device that you can configure a gazillion different ways. Once you learn do to business the Apple Way you will finally “get it” and this is why so many customers never return to the old antiquated systems like Windows and WinMo. Many people like hating on Steve Jobs but really he does know best and has proven it over and over. Nobody does it better than Steve.


@Carl — right, and that’s why I can only use a one-button mouse with my MBP — because Steve said so. Oh, wait… not true, my three-button mouse works just fine :)

I fully realize that the iPad, just like the iPhone, is not an open system. But there are boundaries that even Apple needs to respect if they want to get any of my money in the future. And I’d fully expect the likes of Verizon or Sprint to not take it lightly if Apple were to artificially restrict what WiFi routers can be used with their allegedly WiFi-compatible products. Apple could very quickly turn into the Microsoft of the 21st century and face a lot of government scrutiny.

Of course, this is all theoretical as Apple hasn’t actually said anything about not allowing access to MiFi-like devices. All they have said is that they won’t support tethering. And, unlike JK, I don’t consider accessing a WiFi hotspot — even a mobile one — tethering in the traditional sense of the word.

Khürt L Williams

802.11 is a standard. I see NO way at ALL that Apple could prevent you from using ANY wi-fi router with your iPad/iPhone/MacBook short of breaking the standard.


I just wish there was a way to turn a Blackberry into a WIFI HotSpot, that would be the best solution for me.. I might have to get a Nokia and run Joikuspot, but something tell’s me I won’t like the clunky symbian os much..


Hi KevinC – PDANet doesn’t make the Blackberry a wifi spot. The connection is Bluetooth dun or usb cable.



I’ll be tethering from day 1 as well. Using MyWi on my jailbroken iphone.


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.

Kevin C. Tofel

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.

Sean Cross

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

Cupertino Engineer

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.


Marketplace viability of that option = zero, my friend.


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…

Sandra Bullock

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


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.


@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.


“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.

Rob C

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.

James Kendrick

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.

Rob C

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).


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


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.

Khürt L Williams

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.


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.


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! :)


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.


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


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…


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.


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.

Ian Betteridge

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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