Tagged: Verizon

Verizon’s iPhone 4 gets Wi-Fi hotspot feature

Verizon's iPhone 4 will feature a Personal Hotspot tool

Verizon's iPhone 4 will feature a Personal Hotspot tool. Image courtesy of TechCrunch.com

Oooh, colour me jealous! Today, Verizon announced to the relief a huge number of U.S. residents, that they will (finally) be carrying the iPhone and breaking the exclusivity that AT&T has enjoyed since the first edition of the device back in 2007. That’s a long time to wait.

But that’s not the part that has me excited. Thankfully Canada is one of the few markets where Apple has not continued its practice of exclusivity for such a lengthy period of time. But I digress..

What really gets me pumped is the fact that the Verizon edition will include a feature called “Personal Hotspot”, which as the name suggests, allows up to 5 users to connect to the phone via WiFi for the purpose of internet tethering. You can also tether via USB or Bluetooth, but these connections are one-to-one, not one-to-many.

There is no word yet whether Apple will release this feature to iPhones on other carriers via the next version of iOS (4.2.5) which the Verizon model will run at launch. But I believe we have reason to be optimistic. The HTC Desire Z, for instance, has this feature too and you can use it freely (i.e. without any additional data fees) on the Bell network. Likewise, devices such as the MiFi offer the same functionality.

Why am I so keen to get this feature on the iPhone? Simple: It’s all about choice. I bought an Apple iPad without the 3G option because 99% of the time I know I will be using it with WiFi networks. But on the rare occasions when I can’t connect to a Wi-Fi network, I want to be able to use the iPad, and I didn’t think paying the extra $150 for a 3G version (plus a data plan) made any sense for such limited use. But there is no way to connect that device (or any other Wi-Fi only gadget) to my iPhone.

A WiFi hotspot feature would be the answer to a lot of problems.

Here’s hoping that Apple sees the intrinsic value to its users and makes this an upgrade to all iPhones with the next iOS release. After all, if Android can do it….

[via TechCrunch]

Update Jan 12, 4:16 p.m.: BGR has claimed, and we have confirmed with Apple –  that this feature will be made available on existing iPhones, but that it will be subject to carrier approval. No word yet on which Canadian carriers will support it, or if there will be additional fees involved. We do know that Rogers requires a separately purchased plan in order to use the hotspot feature on the new Palm Pre 2, so that may be an indicator of how they will treat the feature on their customers’ iPhones. Rogers and Bell include tethering on their smartphone data plans.

Related:

disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada

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Microsoft's KIN: A very social phone

The Microsoft KIN One

The Microsoft KIN One

It looks like someone mashed up a Palm Pre and a Samsung Cleo. At least that’s the first impression you get when looking at one of Microsoft’s first branded entries into the mobile phone space, the KIN One. Together with its sibling the KIN Two, it represents a clear expression of what Microsoft thinks the future of mobile is all about, namely social networking.

A multi-touch screen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, the KIN One has a distinctly feminine feel, mimicking a make-up compact in size and shape in its closed position, while the KIN Two sports a more conventional rectangular shape. Microsoft’s KIN website claims that the KIN One will appeal to those who like to one-hand-text while and the KIN Two is better for people who prefer to double-hand it when they type. Size and shape aren’t the only differences. The KIN One has 4GB of storage, a mono speaker and can shoot SD video, while the Two has 8GB of memory, stereo speakers and can capture HD video. Both phones contain Microsoft’s Zune software for media playback.

But size and shape aside, the real story here is what happens when you turn the KIN on.

The Microsoft KIN Two

The Microsoft KIN Two

Microsoft has created an experience they refer to as “KIN Loop”. It’s what you see on the phone’s home screen and it’s meant to be a collage of everything that is going on in your social network, right now. You can bring in feeds from top social apps such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Microsoft’s own services and then identify the people in your network who matter most to you. These updates are always front and centre. Microsoft feels that the KIN’s target market of twenty-somethings will prefer this experience over one that emphasizes menus and icons. This strikes me as a love-it or hate-it gamble.

If KIN Loop is your way of staying on top of your rapidly evolving social scene, KIN Spot is the way you let your network know what’s going on with you. Using the touchscreen, you can drag and drop any item of interest to a small green circle near the bottom of the screen and then craft your message/tweet/status update before blasting it out to everyone, or just a select audience.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the KIN though, is one that doesn’t live inside the phone at all, but rather in the cloud. Dubbed “KIN Studio”, Microsoft has created an online backup system for the KIN that not only preserves nearly every item on the KIN be it photo, video, contact, or call history but lets you “re-live” all of these in a kind of timeline-type display. Microsoft claims the online storage will be ample – more than enough to keep your memories alive for extended periods. There is no mention of what kind of data plan will be required if you are a heavy user of the KIN Two’s 8 megapixel camera or it’s built-in HD camcorder.

Rounding out the KIN feature list is a mobile browser that appears to use the same pan/zoom model as both the Pre and the iPhone, an FM Radio and Search powered by Bing.

Opinion is pouring in already, with the editors at Gizmodo – who have already released videos of the KIN in action – declaring it to be sluggish, but not to the point of being unusable.

The KINs will debut in May in the U.S. on the Verizon network and later in Europe with Vodafone. No word yet on a Canadian launch date or which mobility provider will offer it.

Palm Pre Plus is a Wi-Fi hotspot

Palm_Pre_Plus2010 is really shaping up to be the year that smartphones and other 3G connected devices challenge the wireless carriers to come up with data plans that offer the right combination of price, bandwidth and stability.

When the iPad was announced last month, people reacted with shock over a number of its features (both the features it has as well as those it didn’t), but the big stunner was AT&T’s data packages for the 3G-capable versions of the iPad. A $30/month unlimited price point had analysts openly doubting how the carrier could make enough profit on iPad accounts but perhaps more importantly how they could avoid further degradation of their much-maligned network performance.

For Canadians, the question is whether any of our carriers will step up and offer a similar plan here. As of today, none have announced data plans for the iPad.

Somewhat buried by the iPad hoopla, was the launch of the new Palm Pre Plus smartphone in the U.S. The Pre Plus sports a number of improvements over the existing Pre, but the most intriguing of these is the ability to use the phone as a mobile hotspot.

A downloadable app gives Pre Plus users a quick and easy way to let up to 5 devices connect to the phone via Wi-Fi in order to leverage its 3G data connection. It’s a brilliant idea and I think every smartphone with Wi-Fi capability should come with a similar app. Tethering over a USB cable is awkward, and given the near ubiquity of Wi-Fi on laptops, netbooks, portable game consoles and media players, this is a technology whose time has come.

“Great,” you say, “but what’s the catch?”  Well dear reader you’re right, there is a catch.

In the U.S., Verizon charges their customers an extra $40/month over and above whatever voice or data plan they take. That $40 isn’t even an unlimited rate. You get 5GB, then it’s 5 cents for every MB of overage.

No word yet on which carrier will have the Pre Plus up here in Canada, or how much they will charge for the Wi-Fi hotspot feature.