Android Wear is designed to keep you appraised of what's going on with your phone via notifications and cards, but that's not all it's good for. There are already a few apps that let you tweak settings on your phone, and now Wear Hotspot lets you toggle the hotspot functionality. It's actually a pretty good use of Wear.
Stock Android has had built-in tethering since version 2.2 way back in 2010, but most carrier-branded devices in the US have the option disabled. Sure, there are root apps and various workarounds, but they can be a mess. If you don't need web access, but want your devices on a local network, you're often out of luck. A new app from well-known developer Chainfire gives you back some control (on some devices), and it doesn't require root.
Don't let the title fool you: this app isn't a WiFi-exclusive version of Skype. That would be silly. Instead, it's an easy access app for Skype's network of partnered WiFi access points, which the company claims is more than a million strong in various airports, cafes, and train stations. There's nothing stopping you from using them normally (or using the standard Skype VOIP app), but Skype WiFi will quickly connect and authenticate your Android-powered device.
Wi-Fi-only tablets are pretty popular and for good reason. No one wants to pay for a second data plan just for their slate, and the hardware is cheaper if you get it without 3G/4G radios anyway. Seems like a win. Until you get out of your house and curse your disconnected device and its inability to Google Jeff Goldblum's height at the drop of a hat. Enter FreedomPop.
The service may not be new, but it is novel: 500MB of free data per month.
Sprint has long been the refuge for data-hungry users that don't want to deal with caps or overages. While Sprint's regular 3G and 4G data usage on phones is still unlimited, back in October the Now Network started capping the mobile hotspot feature at 5GB per month. Starting last Friday, May 18th, that plan is gone. In its place are two pricier options.
The low-end option comes with 2GB of monthly bandwidth and costs $19.99 per month.
You know what's ridiculous about mobile hotspot plans? In many instances, you have to bundle those into your main package, which means you're stuck paying for it throughout the duration of your agreement regardless of whether you use it or not. T-Mobile doesn't think that's fair, so today it has announced four new levels of no contract mobile broadband plans for tablets, hotspots, and laptop dongles, starting with a 300MB 1-week pass for $15 and going up from there.
Did I say good? I meant absolutely incredible (though, unfortunately, only for new customers): every single phone at Amazon Wireless sold by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint is going for just 1 penny.
Yup, even such $299 monsters as the HTC Rezound 4G and the DROID RAZR, along with the Galaxy S II variants (including the Skyrocket) are all priced down to a cent above free.
If you're looking to pick up a new phone from Amazon Wireless, an interesting deal just popped up: activate mobile hotspot during your purchase, get a $100 Amazon Gift card. Doesn't matter if you're a new customer or you've been with your carrier for 10 years and are getting an upgrade -- this deal applies to everyone; any hotspot-ready phone, any carrier.
Alternatively, If you're not eligible for upgrade or don't want to get a new phone just yet, you can get a similar deal on standalone hotspots.
It's no secret that providers have been starting to crack down on illegal tethering, but now AT&T is taking a new approach on customers using their device as a hotspot without an appropriate plan.
Back in March, Ma Bell started sending out notices to customers found to be tethering without paying their dues to subtly let them know that their current plan "may need updating." Well, as it turns out, the time for subtleties is over.