Get your Mac online anywhere easily with OS X Yosemite's new Instant Hotspot iPhone tethering featur

Posted:
in macOS edited October 2014
One of the new Continuity features between iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite is Instant Hotspot, giving users the ability to automatically connect to the Internet through their iPhone's cellular data connection without the need to touch their phone.




Instant Hotspot requires an iPhone running iOS 8.1 and a Mac with OS X Yosemite installed. As with other Continuity features, both devices must be logged in to the same iCloud Apple ID.

Users must also have a carrier plan with tethering enabled to take advantage of Apple's hotspot functionality. Unlike before, when users were required to open the iOS Settings application and enable Personal Hotspot, Instant Hotspot allows the feature to automatically be enabled without any input.




On a Mac, simply choose the Wi-Fi menu, and the name of the iPhone, along with cellular signal strength and battery life, will be shown. On an iPad, this information can be found in the Wi-Fi section of the iOS Settings app.

With Instant Hotspot, users will no longer be required to enter a Wi-Fi password to tether with their iPhone. The system is secure and the credentials are authorized via their iCloud account.




If a user does pick up their iPhone, they're alerted of the hotspot connection by a blue bar at the top of the screen, which also displays the number of active connections. And as before, tethering between two Apple devices displays a pair of chain links in the Mac's Wi-Fi menu bar.

Apple's system also intelligently disconnects from Instant Hotspot when the tethered Mac or iPad is not using data. This helps to preserve battery life on the connected iPhone, as tethering can place a considerable drain on the handset.




Other Continuity features in iOS 8 are SMS relay, Handoff, and call answering, all of which have been detailed in AppleInsider's ongoing Yosemite Tips series.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    I've been using this between my iPad and iPhone since iOS 8 came out. It's a great feature for a commuter like me... I can just pull out my wifi iPad and leave my phone in my pocket. Much handier while sitting on the bus/train...
  • Reply 2 of 41
    krawallkrawall Posts: 159member
    I wonder what 'automatic' means in that context. It was possible to do this before although using Bluetooth. I did that all the time.

    The only advantage of this is that I can turn off personal hotspot in the iPhone' settings.

    Cool would be if it would connect automatically when no other network is available but that seems not possible. Then it were true automatic
  • Reply 3 of 41
    It's indeed a great feature that I've started to use regularly during my commute by train. But a small correction: it is not necessary to leave your personal hotspot switched "on". The switching "on" and "off" is done through the Instant Hotspot feature itself. Very neat.
  • Reply 4 of 41
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,251member
    Question ... Does invoking this with AT&T mean losing a grandfathered in limitless data plan? Or does AT&T simply charge extra? I can't see how they could differentiate so I am guessing it would. I know they refused to let us add an iPad to our limitless data plan.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,486member

    Of course, you also need a newer Mac since Continuity doesn't work on pre-Bluetooth 4 Macs. I can use Personal Hotspot but I still need to enter a passcode.

     

    @digitalclips I don't have unlimited data plans anymore but our Mobile Share plan at 10GB has been way more than enough for our 5 iPhones and we're not charged for tethering.

  • Reply 6 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    Question ... Does invoking this with AT&T mean losing a grandfathered in limitless data plan? Or does AT&T simply charge extra? I can't see how they could differentiate so I am guessing it would. I know they refused to let us add an iPad to our limitless data plan.

     

    I'm sure that adding hot spot service will kill your old plan. I'm in the same situation with T-Mobile (unlimited data, unlimited text, 100 min calling, for $30/month).

     

    I think it will be a little while before the carriers respond to this. Hopefully, they ignore it completely. As it is now, I host a hotspot on T-Mobile quite frequently, but I don't have a hotspot service with them. As a result, my laptop Chrome browser shows a T-Mobile page encouraging me to upgrade my plan. I have found that if I spoof the user agent to Safari, then T-Mobile lets me through every time. Same thing for any tablet UA. It won't let in stock Chrome or Inernet Explorer though.

     

    I'm wondering how long I'll be able to ride Safari's coattails through my phone's hot spot though...

  • Reply 7 of 41
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,486member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    Question ... Does invoking this with AT&T mean losing a grandfathered in limitless data plan? Or does AT&T simply charge extra? I can't see how they could differentiate so I am guessing it would. I know they refused to let us add an iPad to our limitless data plan.



    Just checked AT&T. You'll need to search their crazy site but I searched just for "tethering" and found this information, https://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB410606&cv=820&_requestid=2597787#fbid=u0POqPm-tFt. It says with the proper plan, you get tethering for free, you just have to watch your data usage. I'm sure changing plans affects your grandfathered plan but how much data do you use per month?

     

    btw: I have 5 iPhones on my 10GB Mobile Share plan and it costs us $202/mo. All of the iPhones were grandfathered in as off contract when I changed. When we get new phones, each line will go up by $25/mo. 

     

  • Reply 8 of 41
    jstnjstn Posts: 1member
    @digitalclips yes, adding the hotspot functionality to your plan requires a different data plan. i inquired to at&t about this a while back and decided that my $30/mo unlimited data plan wasn't worth losing (now $24/mo via my company's corporate discount).
  • Reply 9 of 41
    plovellplovell Posts: 817member

    Consumer Cellular (MVNO with AT&T service) DOES allow tethering, but doesn't mention it on any of their plans. And it's free. You just have to call them and ask for it. They warn you that tethering can run up your data bill, and that's certainly true, but will enable it for you if you want it.

     

    My data usage is mostly WiFi but I do need access for MBP occasionally. For me this is a great solution.

  • Reply 10 of 41
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,251member
    rob53 wrote: »

    Just checked AT&T. You'll need to search their crazy site but I searched just for "tethering" and found this information, https://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB410606&cv=820&_requestid=2597787#fbid=u0POqPm-tFt. It says with the proper plan, you get tethering for free, you just have to watch your data usage. I'm sure changing plans affects your grandfathered plan but how much data do you use per month?

    btw: I have 5 iPhones on my 10GB Mobile Share plan and it costs us $202/mo. All of the iPhones were grandfathered in as off contract when I changed. When we get new phones, each line will go up by $25/mo. 

    <img alt="" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="51135" data-type="61" src="http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/51135/width/350/height/700/flags/LL" style="; width: 350px; height: 377px">

    Thanks to all who answered. Yes I gave up on the web site as no specific statement as such answered the question.

    I'd hate to risk the unlimited. As I have mentioned before on AI on the topic, where the iPhones (we have a buddy account too) with AT&T unlimited really shines for us, is on a long road trip (as in driving from Florida to New England and back) and the iPhone can be running maps with Siri guiding all the way at no charge. I should add we do not use I95 ... for those wondering why we'd even bother with Maps. We once tested an iPad using cellular that was on a Verizon standard plan and it ate the months data allowance in no time being on Maps continuously.
  • Reply 11 of 41
    Tethering is the biggest scam since the old per-text fee from the carriers. Abysmal to charge for any device to simply make a connection. Man, I still wish Apple would buy a cell phone service provider. I'd rather send my money to Apple than AT&T.
  • Reply 12 of 41
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,251member
    rob53 wrote: »
    Of course, you also need a newer Mac since Continuity doesn't work on pre-Bluetooth 4 Macs. I can use Personal Hotspot but I still need to enter a passcode.

    <a data-huddler-embed="href" href="/u/27437/digitalclips" style="display:inline-block;">@digitalclips</a>
     I don't have unlimited data plans anymore but our Mobile Share plan at 10GB has been way more than enough for our 5 iPhones and we're not charged for tethering.

    I'm tempted but as I said in previous post I doubt using Maps and Siri directions on a road trip would last long, then again I don't know the data rate continuously using Maps when driving, I wonder if that is even knowable?
  • Reply 13 of 41
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    Will AT&T break my godfathered unlimited data plan if I try this? They are always trying to get out of it.
  • Reply 14 of 41
    pazuzu wrote: »
    Will AT&T break my godfathered unlimited data plan if I try this? They are always trying to get out of it.

    "Godfathered"? That's an amusingly worded error with a very different, yet apropos connotation.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    I'm tempted but as I said in previous post I doubt using Maps and Siri directions on a road trip would last long, then again I don't know the data rate continuously using Maps when driving, I wonder if that is even knowable?

     

    Do you have iOS 8? Check your data usage for Maps before your next out-of-town drive, then check it when you arrive. That should give you an idea of MB/mile used. Even better, before you leave, uninstall Maps, and reinstall it, to clear any cached map tiles that might be stored. (I'm assuming that Apple hasn't added a per-app data-clearing feature like Android?)

     

    FWIW, I've driven maybe 10 hours of new territory with Waze this month, and it's only used 70MB (been on full-time when driving). It's not anywhere near the top of my apps for data usage. Actually, wifi hotspot is very near the top.

     

    My guess is that Maps doesn't use enough data to concern you. On road trips, my data bumps up because I'm hosting Netflix for the kids' iPod Touches and iPads...

  • Reply 16 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    Tethering is the biggest scam since the old per-text fee from the carriers. Abysmal to charge for any device to simply make a connection. Man, I still wish Apple would buy a cell phone service provider. I'd rather send my money to Apple than AT&T.



    Yeah. If Apple could add this to the list of services that it provides for free to iOS devices, or even if they just ran it at cost the way they used to for some of the services, it would make it next to impossible for people to justify using any other company's products. It would also make it easier for them to focus on the consumer experience without worrying about what carriers want. AT&T and Verizon are each worth more than the cash Apple has in the bank, but T-Mobile is currently only valued at 22 billion, which is only slightly more than the "over 20 billion" that they spent last quarter on dividends and share repurchases. Unfortunately though, rolling this plan out to the rest of the world would be be extremely expensive and complex, and in the end probably not worth the headache.

  • Reply 17 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Retrogusto View Post

     



    Yeah. If Apple could add this to the list of services that it provides for free to iOS devices, or even if they just ran it at cost the way they used to for some of the services, it would make it next to impossible for people to justify using any other company's products. It would also make it easier for them to focus on the consumer experience without worrying about what carriers want. AT&T and Verizon are each worth more than the cash Apple has in the bank, but T-Mobile is currently only valued at 22 billion, which is only slightly more than the "over 20 billion" that they spent last quarter on dividends and share repurchases. Unfortunately though, rolling this plan out to the rest of the world would be be extremely expensive and complex, and in the end probably not worth the headache.


     

    That, and I think T-Mobile's network would heavily frustrate most iPhone users in the US. It's fine in cities, but sucks between them.

  • Reply 18 of 41
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    krawall wrote: »
    I wonder what 'automatic' means in that context. It was possible to do this before although using Bluetooth. I did that all the time.

    The only advantage of this is that I can turn off personal hotspot in the iPhone' settings.

    Cool would be if it would connect automatically when no other network is available but that seems not possible. Then it were true automatic

    I don't think it auto-connects, but that's good since most have metered downloads with their cellular data. The automatic portion isn't really named well but it's better than you-no-longer-have-to-go-into-your-iOS-device-Settings-to-toggle-off-then-on-the-hotspot-so-it-will-finally-show-up-in-your-Mac.

    Also nice that they show the signal strength and battery life of your iDevice. It finally feels like an Apple solution.
  • Reply 19 of 41

    I can't seem to get this working--I can explicitly turn on Personal Hotspot and see the iPhone as usual in the list of available networks on my Mac, but it doesn't show up as described in the article if I leave Personal Hotspot turned off.  Are there other settings on either end that need adjusting to make this behavior occur?  I believe I have a new enough Mac (mid-2012) to have the correct Bluetooth version, but not sure how to verify.

     

    /mike 

  • Reply 20 of 41

    Does this mean that the old WiFi Hotspot feature of iPhone iOS 7 and earlier no longer functions?  Hotspot is extremely important to me, but I want to be able to use it with my older Macs and other hardware, and not rely upon OS X Yosemite.  If the old function is gone, then this is a huge feature-loss for me.

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