Few things matter more than a solid Internet connection when you’re a geek on the run. Along those lines, you can find decent Wi-Fi at airports, but you’ll pay through the nose to access it – most of the time, that is. Skype’s pulling its best Santa Claus impression and gifting fliers (naughty or nice) with an hour of free Wi-Fi at 50 airports across the U.S. during the peak holiday travel season.
Late last week, Motorola Droid users rejoiced as it was announced they would be receiving an Android 2.2 update this week. But now another announcement is leaving a sour taste in users' mouths. Verizon has announced that the update will not contain the Froyo standard USB tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality. In the statement, Verizon claimed it was a hardware issue, saying, "[the Droid] doesn't have [the] hardware to support a mobile hotspot."
Some users are calling Verizon's bluff though. The Droid is one of the most hackable Android phones available, and may custom ROMs exist for it. A rooted Droid is perfectly capable of running a hotspot with some of these ROMs. This fact makes Verizon's statement suspect. A more likely scenario is that Verizon simply doesn't want to allow users to use the free tethering in Froyo.
Some other Verizon phones, like the Droid X, have a special paid hotspot app that Verizon charges monthly for. It's possible Verizon and Motorola did not want to take the time to develop such a feature for a phone that is about to discontinued. What do you think? Conspiracy, or hardware shortcoming?
Bits of information have been leaking out about Google's next iteration of the Android platform with increasing regularity as we near the Google I/O event. Today we've gotten perhaps the tastiest tidbit yet. According to TechCrunch, Android 2.2 (codenamed Froyo) will have tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality built in. This would be the first modern smartphone platform to integrate these abilities natively, without carrier support.
Some phones, like the Palm Pre Plus and HTC EVO 4G (and costs extra for the EVO), are shipping with specialized apps for sharing their mobile connection over Wi-Fi, but these solutions are developed with the blessing of carriers. It's unclear if carriers would be able to disable this functionality or require a fee, without using a non-standard build of the Android OS. In the screen shots we can clearly see options for both standard tethering, and Wi-Fi hotspot tethering.
Google clearly sees this a differentiator in the US market where the iPhone still lack any tethering options at all. We are definitely looking forward to hearing more about this feature when Froyo is announced.
It’s awkward, that’s for sure, being the only one in a group with a 3G connection and everyone you're with needing to tap into the Internet. You don’t really want others pounding away on your hardware, but how can you gracefully say no? Mobile Wi-Fi hotspots are the answer, and Connect One’s got a new one to consider: the Wi-REACH Classic.
The Wi-REACH Classic's battery delivers four to five hours of use, and can be recharged with a built-in USB connector. At a bit over 5-inches by 3-inches and weighing 3.9 ounces it's pretty painless to carry around.
The Wi-REACH Classic sells for $99, and is available from ConnectOne.