On Friday, Tether.com announced a new iPhone tethering app that bypasses Apple by taking the HTML5 route. The company behind the app actually developed an iOS version before switching to HTML5, but it only lasted 20 hours before Apple figured out what was going on and pulled it from the store.
"It was clear from our initial application iTether, there was enormous demand within the iPhone ecosystem," says Tim Burke, CEO of Tether. "It was unfortunate that Apple decided to remove our application, only 20 hours after we launched. However, this caused us to innovate. Our underlying patent-pending technology behind Tether for iPhone is unlike anything on the market."
Typically wireless carriers charge extra for tethering a smartphone's connection to a PC or Mac, forcing subscribers to purchase a separate monthly data plan. Tethering a connection using third-party applications (and thus not paying for an extra data plan) is usually against wireless carriers' terms and conditions. And while Tether's HTML5 app still violates those contract rules, it doesn’t fall within reach of Apple's Ban-hammer.
Tethering's HTML5 app works by setting up the iPhone as a proxy server, thus the user creates an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network and then runs Tether's desktop software to direct HTTP traffic to the iPhone. The HTML5 page loaded on the iPhone thus pushes the traffic to the Internet and returns with the resulting data, bypassing Apple and wireless network operators.
"This circumvents the need of buying the application directly from Apple's App Store and allows any iPhone or iPad with a data connection to allow tethering," the company reports in a blog. "Frequent travelers in particular love Tether because it works all over the world, no matter what network or carrier is available at the time. There’s no need to worry about reconfiguring the Internet connection from network to network."
Naturally the app isn't free even in its HTML5 form, charging users $15 for the first year and $30 for every year thereafter. The company also provides a tethering app for Android and BlackBerry, but they only require a one-time fee of $29.95 per license. "There are no additional fees, no proxy settings and it works with almost every Internet based piece of software without modification," the FAQ reads. "Tethering with our app is the easiest solution on the market."
Tether has been used on carriers all over the world, meaning customers can travel country to country without worrying how to set it up depending on the new carrier network they may be roaming on, the company claims.