Time marches on, betas come and shipping versions go, but today is kind of special. Whereas AT&T has dragged its feet for years already over the issue of tethering—using your iPhone like and phone to connect your computer to the internet—Apple has wasted little time in disabling a popular, yet unauthorized method for enabling tethering.
TUAW reports that the just released iPhone OS 3.1 beta 2 breaks the IPCC method of enabling tethering for AT&T customers. That is, although iPhone OS 3.x officially includes tethering functionality, Apple’s exclusive wireless “partner” in the US hasn’t stated terms or when tethering via the iPhone will be allowed.
“There are a lot of reports out there, but wanted you guys to know that rumors of $55 tethering plan on top of an unlimited data plan are false,” AT&T said in a statement on June 19. “We’ll have more news to share when the iPhone tethering option is closer to launch.”
— AT&T says iPhone exclusive is good for everyone
— Apple says, ‘Yes, we know AT&T sucks. Here’s $30 for your trouble’
— AT&T to cave on tethering, too?
— AT&T: ‘We’ve been very happy with our pricing’
When does a phone stop being a phone?
Needless to say, the days have passed into weeks and still no information, yet one of the methods available to those who want to use their iPhone like a phone—what a novel concept—will soon be a thing of the past. Well, it will be a thing of the past for those that choose to “upgrade” from the current version of the operating system when iPhone OS 3.1 eventually ships.
And this could present a familiar and unhappy circumstance for Apple. Like the millions of iPod touch owners that won’t pay $10 for a handful of features that don’t matter to them, many iPhone users—ones that rely on tethering or others that aren’t fond of being told their phones can’t be used as phones—might choose to forgo OS 3.1, leaving developers in the lurch (ie the people that have made 1.5 billion “it’s the apps, stupid” downloads possible).
So, is tethering one of the great new features of iPhone OS 3.x? Maybe it will officially stop being vaporware around the time Duke Nuke’em Forever eventually ships. Until then, although Apple’s about to plug one hole, there are still plenty ways to get the job done…
What’s your take?