No Android Tethering App Says Google
Article by George Norman
On 01 Apr 2009
The “Wi-Fi Tether for Root Users” Android app has been pulled down from the Android store by Google, making us suspicious on just how much “openness” the operating system brings to mobile phones. In all fairness to Google, they did cite their “Developer Distribution Agreement” and T-Mobile’s “Terms of Service” which state that you may not use tethering unless it is explicitly permitted by your Data Plan. If that is the case, then Google should not make the bold statement on Android bringing “Internet-style innovation and openness to mobile phones.”

In essence, Google’s “developer Distribution Agreement” says that apps which are “in violation of the Device manufacturer’s or Authorized Carrier’s terms of service” will be taken down from the Android Market. Since T-Mobile specifically prohibits the use of tethering in order to connect your “personal computer or other hardware” to the Internet, it was only natural that the “Wi-Fi Tether for Root Users” app would be pulled.

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“This raises some interesting questions about this "open" platform. Android phones are supposed to be released for other carriers in the future, right? Does this mean that apps in the Market have to adhere to the ToS for only T-Mobile, even when other carriers sign on? Will all apps have to adhere to the ToS for every carrier that supports Android phones? Why is all of this enforcement Google's job, in the first place? If T-Mobile wants to force people to pay for broadband plans in addition to their phone data, it's their job to either make that attractive to users or strongarm them into it by, say, instituting data caps. Playing cop for cell carriers doesn't really seem like the ideal way to establish credibility as a promoter of free software and a strong development community,” says developer and PhD student in Computer Science at the University of New Hampshire, Seth.

On a brighter side, the Android operating system is being considered as a viable option to be used by HP on their netbooks – details here.

What is tethering?

Tethering is a mobile device’s capability to connect to a non-mobile device, like your desktop computer, and give that non-mobile device access to the web. To put it more bluntly, you just connect your smartphone to your computer and in no time at all you have wireless internet. You can connect your mobile phone via: serial cable, USB cable, PC card, IrDA, Bluetooth, and WiFi. The term comes from the word “tether”, which is when you use a cord to anchor down a moveable object.

UPDATE: Google has reinstated the tethering app - details here .



Tags: Google, Android, Android Market, Tethering, Wi-Fi Tether for Root Users
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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