Well everybody, it looks like the free ride is over: carriers in the US have started to seriously crack down on Android tethering apps. Head on over to the Android Market site and try to install an app that turns your smartphone into a WiFi hotspot — there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be told, “this item is not available on your carrier.” We checked out a number of different tethering options and they were all blocked by T-Mobile and AT&T, which isn’t entirely new. Verizon has also joined the party and, while it missed at least one that we spotted, we’re sure they’ll all be gone in short order. Only Sprint has decided against banning such apps… for now. It looks like you might have to finally cough up for that tethering plan you’ve been desperately trying to avoid.
Verizon execs have been clear as crystal that unlimited smartphone data will follow the dodo — perhaps as soon as summer of this year — but in the meanwhile you can drink your fill of the best as the HTC Thunderbolt will launch this Thursday with an unlimited LTE data plan. While we’ve no guarantees how long it will last, or whether you can grandfather the $30 monthly option into bigger and better devices down the road, it does open up a whole new avenue of opportunity for the Thunderbolt. Considering that Verizon’s 4G USB modems top out at 10GB of LTE data for $80 a month, the HTC handset just became the most powerful, affordable MiFi you could possibly own. Assuming battery life is decent, of course. Find the full PR below.
The smart folks over at ComptonSoft are looking to provide a GPS receiver to your mobile device in a rather unconventional way. TetherGPS links up your Android phone’s GPS to the Nook Color by means of WiFi — either on the same network or via a WiFi tether — because the Nook Color is lacking in the standard usable Bluetooth department. After connecting the two devices, it makes a second link by running a TGPS server on the phone and a TGPS client on the Nook. The two devices are then intertwined in a blissful, all-you-can-GPS buffet of routes and roads. For the most part, the Nook’s location-aware Android applications, such as Google Maps, will draw from this connection for location data and use it as if there were a GPS receiver on board. TetherGPS is up for grabs for $2.99 on the Android Market, and there’s also a free “Lite” version for those who only need GPS for five minutes at a time — we’ll assume you know who you are.