reports this morning, but the feature can be turned on if carriers choose. The Verizon iPhone announcement this week included news that those phones will create a cloud of wifi accessible by nearby laptops and other devices. Current iPhone owners hoped that AT&T would allow them to use the same feature. A just-released beta version Apple posted for developers this afternoon includes no such feature. A screenshot (below) from blogger Tom Warren in the UK, however, shows that he's prompted to set up wifi sharing through his carrier, Vodafone.The iOS version 4.3 will not include a wifi hotspot feature by default, contrary to hopes and
Why is a wifi cloud such a big deal? Because the ability to access the internet from anywhere feels right around the corner, now that we have these powerful mobile sources of connectivity in our pockets. Carriers would like to insist we either pay an exorbitant sum every month, or continue to feel like we're pounding our heads against the inside of a cave. It's maddening.
AT&T, presumably, will continue to insist that its US customers pay a high price for service that feels more limited all the time. AT&T has struggled to deal with the bandwidth of extensive iPhone data use, but as Verizon steps up to the plate - it says it can handle the demand. It's a bold step to stand alone as a US iPhone wifi hotspot provider in light of what's sure to be a crush of data use.
Of course people willing to jailbreak their iPhones have been able to use $20 software to create a wifi cloud around their phone since at least the beginning of last year. That method is less fast and reliable than native support is hoped to be.