Using the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot
New iOS feature turns your phone into a portable wireless router
Throw away your MiFi! Forgo the heartbreak, of tethering. Give up the struggle of Internet sharing from a mobile broadband modem through your laptop. The iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature can slice (through your mobile bill), dice (up your cables), and let pounds and pounds of Wi-Fi devices connect to the Internet.
Personal Hotspot turns your iPhone 4 into a portable wireless router that can share its Internet connection with other devices. This feature debuted with the Verizon iPhone release in February and became available to AT&T iPhones with the iOS 4.3 update. Up to five pieces of hardware that have standard Wi-Fi adapters can connect to the iPhone’s micro base station if you use Verizon‘s iPhone 4. (AT&T’s iPhone also allows for five connections, though only three of those can be via Wi-Fi.) Here’s how to put Personal Hotspot to work for you.
Setup and use is simple. First, you need to sign up for the sendee with your earner. Verizon charges $20 per month for Personal Hotspot and includes a 2GB pool of data that’s separate from the data you pay for to send e-mail, surf the Web. and use apps. Additional gigabytes are $20 each. AT&T offers the Personal Hotspot feature to Data Pro plan subscribers. It costs an additional $20 per month, but its 2GB of data are added to the 2GB of data included with your service plan. Additional gigabytes cost $10 each.
With your plan enabled, launch Settings, and tap General > Network > Personal Hotspot. After you turn on the hotspot for the first time, the Personal Hotspot item will then appear at the top level of the Settings app.
Securing Your Hotspot
Apple requires a password for the hotspot Wi-Fi network. You’ll be grateful for this, because it means that you can’t accidentally open the network to anyone and have them run up a huge data bill. The password Apple prefills is unique, easy to remember, and quite strong: a word and a number for Ai&T, or a word, number, and word for Verizon. You can replace that password by tapping in the field. A password must be at least eight characters long (a mix of letters, numbers, and punctuation).
You can share simultaneously through USB. Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, but you can selectively disable any of these wireless methods. Disable Bluetooth (Settings > General > Bluetooth) or Wi-Fi (Settings > Wi-Fi), and you will reduce battery usage a bit, as well as quiet the radio environment around you. When you flip Personal Hotspot to On, it will ask you if you want to enable Bluetooth or Wi-Fi if either is turned off. USB is always available, but you can enable and disable USB tethering on the computer side via the Network preference pane even when you have an iPhone plugged in for charging or syncing.
How It Works
A blue bar appears at the top of the phone‘s screen when a device is connected to the hotspot, much like the green bar that shows an active call when you’re not in the phone app. Tap the bar to open the Personal Hotspot settings screen. The bar displays a count of the connected devices, including ones connected via USB and Bluetooth. Because a computer or other device sees your Personal Hotspot as just another Wi-Fi connection, you can cany out any task and use any service. This includes FaceTime on an iPhone or iPod touch relayed through the hotspot.
Managing Your Hotspot
If a phone call comes in while you’re using the hotspot feature, the Verizon iPhone keeps all devices connected but suspends Internet access until you accept or reject the call (GSM phones keep the data connection live). Answer the call, and the hotspot stays active without Internet service; the Net comes back when you hang up. Reject the call, and Net access resumes.