Since its announcement last summer AT&T has failed to activate its tethering feature leaving Americans little to do except listen to Australians and Europeans talk about how awesome the feature is or, for more ambitious iPhone owners, take matters into their own hands and jailbreak their phones. However, the next beta (fourth to be exact) of the iPhone 4.0 OS promises many new features and may finally enable Internet tethering to customers in the United States. The picture to your left, which sprang up out of a developer’s forum, is clear evidence that Internet tethering through the iPhone will likely now be supported with the release of OS 4.0. The screen informs AT&T customers that they need to contact the carrier or go to their web site in order to activate the feature.
Tethering is a function that lets users hook up their mobile phones and use them as modems in order to share internet connectivity with other devices over a USB, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth connection. The process would let you connect your phone to your computer, or any other wireless enabled device, and access the Internet through AT&T's 3G network as part of your wireless data plan. The iPhone received this feature in June 2009 with the release of iPhone OS 3.0 but AT&T had not enabled the feature over concerns that it would overwhelm the carrier's network. That AT&T would decide to release tethering support now comes on the heels of the forthcoming pitched sales battle between Verizon and AT&T for the souls of iPhone subscribers and the fact that AT&T has made substantial investments in the past six months to their wireless networks.
Few details have since arisen about tethering leaving many to wonder about pricing and details of data plans. "You'll see a pricing plan of at least $20 per month for a person to enable tethering on their account" speculates Chris Hazelton, research director, mobile and wireless, at The 451 Group. He ventures that such a pricing plan would limit demand so the carrier won't see such a large impact on its data networks nor as much hacking.
Other changes found in the latest iPhone OS 4.0 beta include a default folder for utility apps, new wallpaper images, group messaging options and even an orientation lock for the Camera Roll. Apple's site says iPhone OS 4 will include over 100 new user features for the iPhone and iPod touch, along with a new software development kit for the creation of new apps. The iPhone OS 4 is scheduled to ship this summer for the iPhone and iPod touch and in the fall for the iPad.
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