For some strange reason, Apple approved an app that lets you bypass monthly carrier tethering plans to share your iPhone’s wireless connection with your computer. (Update: The app has been removed from the App Store.)
Dubbed iTether, the app connects to Mac and Windows software to share your iPhone’s web connection for a one-time $14.99 fee. In comparison, AT&T and Verizon offer iPhone tethering functionality for an additional $20-a-month.
Given that Apple has previously banned similar apps, you’d think that iTether must have slipped past the company’s notoriously scrupulous approval process. But according to Tether.com, the Canadian company behind the app, Apple knew exactly what it was up to: “We were very clear with Apple what our app did. They asked us a bunch of questions and then approved us,” the company said on Twitter last night.
While it may seem like a killer deal, you do give up some tethering conveniences with iTether. The app only works over USB, and it doesn’t allow any sort of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth tethering. That limitation likely led Apple to think iTether wouldn’t compete with full-fledged tethering plans, but it’s still annoying for anyone used to the freedom of wireless tethering.
Since the app went live last night, iTether’s homepage has been overloaded with traffic. As MacRumors points out, the app also seems to authenticate with iTether.com whenever you launch it, so the actual tethering service has been facing issues as well. Due to the insane demand, Tether.com says it has added 20 additional web servers.
Even if Apple approves of the iTether app, that doesn’t mean the carriers will play nicely with it. Carriers can’t stop the app from working, but they can certainly scrutinize users who end up using lots of mobile data. Data used via the app will still count against your monthly allotment of mobile data, so it’s wise to keep an eye on your bandwidth limits as well.