Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review/How To: Use FoxFi for Android for tethering

If you have a smartphone in the US, you are paying a lot of money for a cellular internet connection that, depending on a variety of factors, can be quite fast. Wouldn't it be great if you could share that connection with your other devices? After all, you're paying for a certain amount of data usage per month, why can't you use it on all of your devices? Well, it turns out you can, but all of the major US carriers block the built in "tethering" or internet connection sharing features of the smartphones on their networks, unless you pay them a hefty monthly fee. The average fee is $30 a month, which over the course of a 2 year contract equals out to $720. That's a lot of money, and it's somewhat ridiculous that you should have to pay it to use the data you are already paying for.

Last year I wrote about a workaround that allows you to utilize the built in mobile hotspot feature on Android phones, which lets you create a wifi network to share your cell connection, for free, but they patched this approach. Thus, we were left with two options: Use a USB tethering app from the Google Play Store, which will work but doesn't let you share your connection with game consoles, the iPod Touch and iPad, or other devices that the developer can't write drivers for. Alternatively, you can "root" or hack your phone, and install a wifi hotspot tethering app or modify the built in software, but that can be difficult or even impossible depending on your phone.
Luckily, however, there is now an app available that lets you create a hotspot to share your phone's connection for free, without rooting. It's called FoxFi, and I recommend downloading it now before some carrier or other greedy corporation get's it taken down. There were already a few options, but all of them were either rather expensive(PdaNet) or bad. FoxFi, on the other hand, is free and works well.
To use it, download it from the Play Store here, open it, and push Activate Wifi Hotspot. Wait 30 seconds or so, and then connect to the wifi network from your laptop, Xbox, iPad, etc.
If you want to change the name of the wifi network created, you can do that by tapping Network Name, and to set a password(which I recommend doing, especially if you're on a capped data connection) tap Password and enter one.
The interface is somewhat sparse, but not actually bad. Hopefully they'll update it to bring it more in line with Android 4.0's UI design guidelines, however.
There are a few limitations - obviously, it only supports Android, and even then most HTC devices and the Motorola Atrix are apparently not compatible. Plus you can't use USB tethering if you want. But all in all, it's a great app.

1 comment:

  1. My xbox wont connect for some reason