So you’ve got an Android mobile phone such as a Nexus One or similar, (or are thinking of getting one) and you want to tether it to your computer? – But what is tethering? Simply put, you want to share your Android mobile phone’s internet connection with your laptop or other computer, for instance when you’re out and about at a cafe.
There are two main ways of doing this, one of which is more risky than the other, although they’re both free, and both will get you surfing the net using your Android device’s internet access in no time!
1. PDANet ($30 / Free Version Available)
PDANet is available on the Android Market for free, and allows full web access from your phone to most sites. If you want to access https sites, you’ll need to buy the full version of the app, but the free version will suffice for most. If you own any Android phone, you’ll be able to download PDANet and tether it to any PC or Mac in no time, with little hassle.
After downloading PDANet from the Marketplace, you’ll need to download the installer for your Windows or Mac OS X computer and install it. This doesn’t take too long, and once the software’s been installed you’re good to go. When tethering your phone, you can either use a USB Tether, or if you’re a Windows user you can also tether it via Bluetooth.
If you want the fastest speeds, you should choose the USB Tether option, although if you haven’t got a USB cable handy, speeds over Bluetooth are still manageable. I was extremely impressed at the performance of PDANet on both Windows and OS X, with brilliant speeds over my 3G connection on the Nexus One.
2. Android Wi-Fi Tether For Root Users (Free, Rooting Required)
Android Wi-Fi Tether is available for free, but requires that your phone is rooted. To root your phone you need to follow a guide such as the one we wrote about rooting the Nexus One and you’re good to go. If you own another Android device, there are many guides across the net that will take you through the process. Remember, rooting your phone will void your phone’s warranty, and requires a bit of concentration, so take your time while doing it to make sure you don’t brick your phone!
Essentially, Wi-Fi Tether turns your Android phone in to a MiFi device by broadcasting a Wi-Fi access point that you can connect to with any wireless device – no USB cable required! You can either connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, although like PDANet, Bluetooth will be a bit slower.
When using Wireless Tether, you have a multitude of options which will allow you to configure the Wi-Fi connection. Not only can you change the SSID and frequency of the channel, but you can set up encryption so no one else can easily hop on to your connection and use your phone’s data! You can see which clients are connected to your phone and using the connection too.
The extremely simple wireless interface shows you at a glance whether you’re currently tethering by changing the wireless icon between green and grey. To start tethering, just press the green wireless logo. When you want to stop. just press the icon again and it’ll change colour back to green. You can also see usage statistics at the bottom of the screen, which show how much has been downloaded and uploaded.