by David Murphy
It should come as no small surprise for those still waiting for some kind of tethering option for their iPhones, but Apple’s iPad, scheduled to launch April 3, probably won’t support tethering either. That’s according to Steve Jobs himself, who made the brief–if not curt–announcement in response to an emailed question from Swedish record producer Jezper Söderlund.
It’s a fair question to ask, as the tethering situation for Apple’s iPhone can be confusing enough as-is. Officially, the iPhone can share its mobile or WiFi connection with an attached desktop or laptop. It’s not a question of the phone’s technology; it’s a question of the phone’s carrier. AT&T, the iPhone’s sole carrier in the United States markets, doesn’t yet support tethering. Though it promises to bring this feature to iPhones eventually, there’s been no set date for deployment—just a promise that it’ll come “at some point in the future,” says AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel.
European users–Söderlund included–are free to tether their connections to their hearts’ contents, provided their carriers support the functionality. But in the case of the iPad, it’s the hardware itself that’s apparently going to be the stopgap. Gone is the idea of a connected platform of devices that all intermingle over the same connection, a dream Söderlund makes note of in his email to Jobs:
“I’ll keep it short.
I’m Jezper from Sweden, a long time Apple fan, currently about to replace the very last computer at home with a brand spanking new iMac i7. I’m also awaiting the release of the iPad. However, I have one question:
Will the wifi-only version somehow support tethering thru my iPhone?
Two devices, based on the same OS, with already built-in technology to share one data plan suggests a secondary contract could possibly be redundant.
From the look of your keynote, where the iPad sits well between my MacBook Pro and my iPhone, I was hoping the three of them could interact as seamless as possible.
All the best,
Jobs’s reply–“No. Sent from my iPhone”–doesn’t go into great detail as to what exactly is going to be impossible on the iPad. Will a 3G-supported iPad be able to tether a connection to a desktop or laptop PC? What about a WiFi-only iPad? Will a user be able to plug a 3G iPhone into a WiFi iPad to tether the connection? Is anything involving the word “tethering” right out? What about jailbroken iPhones or–presumably–jailbroken iPads?
And, of course, there’s the biggest question of them all: Will consumers accept having to purchase separate data