Poll: Should Apple allow tethering apps in the App Store?

<div class="spTwice now, once with Netshare in 2008 and now again with iTether in 2011, Apple has initially approved and then turned around a rejected an app that let iPhone users tether for free.

While some carriers in some countries allow for free tethering on the more expensive data plans, many countries, including the US do not. That means those carriers make extra money charging for tethering plans, and apps like Netshare and iTether threaten that extra money (or double-dipping, as you may wish to call it.)

I don't know if Apple has carrier agreements in place to prevent tethering apps and protect revenue streams, the way they once did to prevent VoIP over 3G, but should that really be the users problem? Should it be Apple's to police? If you get a tethering app and stay beneath your data cap, shouldn't that be between you and your carrier? And if you're on an unlimited plan, aren't they already sending nastygrams if you go over a certain amount anyway?

TiPb Nation, what do you think? Should Apple allow tethering apps in the App Store?

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Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

Poll: Should Apple allow tethering apps in the App Store?


Apple is far to restrictive. If as the developers of itether claim they were in contact prior to the release,then Apple must not pull it now. They probably pulled it because once it caught on through the internet grapevine many carriers intervened...

Seems to me that it isn't really Apple but the carriers that restrict these apps. I don't think Apple would mine but the carriers are on their back about them as soon as another one is made.

Regardless, Apple would be the one company who could still change the carrier's minds and there's no excuse why they pulled it after approving it.

Yes, once again, Apple showed us who the real customer is - is it me? Absolutely not.
The customer is AT&T!
We are just here to pay the bills.

The customer is now ATT and Sprint and a smattering of others. And us - poll is pretty conclusive. So is the fact that Tether got so many customers in 12 hours that they needed extra servers and hosts to manage. The demand is there.
At some point, an android phone with free texting and tethering may look attractive and I'll carry a Touch for my Apple jujubes.

Apple shouldn't let the carriers restrict tethering its their software don't have problems with the tether on my 4S didn't have to sign up for any extra data plan I only use it for my iPad wen there's no wifi because in Aus they charge twice as much for an iPad than the US tis bull crap our dollar has been more or equal for ages -_-

I really don't get the whole tethering fee (other than pure greed). If you have unlimited data, then yes, you should pay more for tethering. However, if you already have a capped data plan then you should be able to do whatever you want with the data whether that be on your iPhone or tethering a laptop or iPad. I have the $25 / 2GB plan with AT&T and on average use 400 MB per month. That's all I need for my iPhone but would likely use more if I tethered my iPad for example. It's my data. I paid for 2GB, now let me use it however I want. AT&T loves customers like me. I use too much for the $15 / 250MB plan but never come close to using the 2GB I pay $25 for.

So what your saying is because you have a limit you should get what you pay for? Sounds like your just being selfish. The ppl who were fortunate to get the unlimited plan still pay for their limit, and it was once upon a time 0. Everyone on unlimited data can hardly go over 2 gigs these days anyway die to being throttled. Data is data, ppl have been tethering with the iphone since the 2g came out. I personally use the apps to tether on an emergency basis so a monthly fee is asinine to me along with going onto a cap. I'd gladly pay for tethering with a separate cap on it. if I was ALLOWED to keep my unlimited plan.

The carriers are so far behind the curve, they can't keep up with the data requirements of the handset users so they count on us not to use our allocation. if every user used their full allocation, the networks would come to a screeching halt. All this said, I have an unlimited plan and barely scratch the surface. I just kept the unlimited because I could. I travel very little, but I should be able to tether and use data as needed. I might even be "ok" with them allowing us a certain amount of tethered usage within our allocation. Of the millions of iPhone users, I bet the majority use very little data, but love the interface and the apps.

I'm surprised that some enterprising person in Russia or China hasn't come up with a way to sell US users apps from a foreign iTunes account. Now that would be handy!

Apple should absolutely not allow tethering apps in the app store. They should enable the tethering functionality already built into the iPhone, and tell the carriers where to stick it. They should take a stand and say to the carriers: "If you don't like the idea of iPhone owners using all of the features we built into our product for them, then we'll sell our iPhones to a carrier who will." I dare a carrier to say anything then, and let slip a product that is so immensely popular and risk its current customer base jumping ship for a more reasonable carrier. Sprint, with it's truly unlimited data and the giant iPhone 4S order it placed recently would welcome the additional customers.

If I pay for a finite amount of data, I should be able to use that data however I like - my carrier shouldn't be able to charge extra just because I want to use it to tether another device. They can charge me extra if I go over my limit!
On the other hand, if I have unlimited data, I can see charging for tethering, since that will presumably increase my data consumption.

Apple already supplies a tethering app. Its built into the phone when you get it. The fact that you have to pay for it or not has to do with your provider, not Apple.
The only purpose of this app would be to circumvent the contract you already signed..

Apple's tethering app intentionally marks the data usage as "tethering" to enable carriers to double dip.
What Apple should do is to unmark the data - but they don't. So they're not totally in the right here.

I completely agree with you Guest. Apple should never have built the facility to identify tethered data into their operating system.

This situation is part of my biggest gripe with Apple. They make a wonderful phone and I truly love it and my iPad as well; however what I do not like is the control Apple feels they must maintain over everything their products do. If I buy a new Toyota Camry and I decide to convert it to run on paint thinner it’s ok, I just lose my warranty. Toyota doesn’t come take the conversion away or tell me I must use their conversion kit. I understand wanting your product to work properly and I understand wanting control over the interworking’s of the device. I am always hearing Apple won’t let you do this or Apple has locked down that and my thought s are just who do they think they are. Several months ago I head some such rumor and I got mad and went and got and Android phone (Samsun Infuse) and said no more to Apple, well I returned it the next day because it crashed several times that first night and was just not up to what I now expect from my cell phone. Now this is just my opinion but as I see it Apple needs to let things be and not worry about everything I am going to do with MY phone.

I currently have unlimited data and I would be willing to go to 2gb a month if I could use that data any way I wanted. I hate paying for anything twice. It is BS and that is the only reason I jailbreak. So I can tether and use what I am already paying for.

It isn't Apple's job... the telcos need to deal with this. If I purchase X amount of bandwidth and monthly provision, I should be able to use and access that how I like and need.
The problem is that the telcos sold 'unlimited' plans, now they don't want to actually deliver on that. I understand that. But, then, don't do unlimited plans!
On the other hand, I don't think people would complain about not having unlimited plans if the costs and limits were in the ballpark of reasonability. What we currently have is telcos charging ridiculous amounts with unrealistic caps... and then fake 'unlimited' plans as a way to try an appease the people complaining about the other plans.

Hell, in Japan here, we don't even get the option to tether. No one I know has even heard of the personal hotspot option on the iPhone and are shocked that such a feature exists. The carriers all sell pocket wifi units for an additional $40+ per month. I understand the strategy but I don't want to carry around another blinky led lump of plastic to duplicate functionality that has been disabled in my phone. I'd gladly pay a fee for tethering but we don't even get that choice. "Oh, you mean you want pocket wifi? We have a wide selection of..." Gah!

people just want stuff for free. Apple is dependant on good relationships with carriers. And carriers need to make a profit. Bandwith is expensive so the more they have to dole out at fixed rates the costlier it is. They, carriers, are advertising cellphone data plans. If they wanted you to use your tethered laptop they have every right to charge more as the bandwith is expected to be higher. And it's not like people would be perfectly fine paying more. They'd just complain the same about apple keeping them from getting it on the cheap. i got no problem. If you really want it jailbreak your phone and download a third party app.
and if people didn't hog bandwith maybe everyone wouldn't be getting rid of unlimited plans and going tiered.

Or buy any other phone with any other OS! The tethering feature is expected by every other phone user, so why apple think it's ok to build this restriction into their OS is beyond me.
Every 'unlimited' data plan is subject to a 'fair usage policy', so you cant use more data that is deemed to be fair. In a world where every device talks to every other device, to try to prescribe what can and cant be sent between devices is just ludicrous.

I think they should, or as lawyercane said, build it into the system and let the carriers deal with it. I'm not paying an extra $20/mo. (VZW) for something I MIGHT use 1-2x a month. Just let me tether, if I go over, I'll pay for the extra data.

I do believe all of the ideas you have reoitducnd for your post. They're really convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for newbies. May you please prolong them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.