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back to article iPhone tethering app uses HTML5 to defeat Apple's censors

A Wi-Fi tethering application for the iPhone has managed to bypass Apple's restrictions on such apps by doing the whole thing in HTML5 - and charging for it too. Tether did pop up in the Apple store briefly; it was available for about 20 minutes before Cupertino spotted the app was allowing iPhone users to share their mobile …

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This sounds like

an exciting new way to use a neighbour's Internet connection without their permission or their provider's. I mean, this HTML 5 stuff also works on PCs?

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Re: This sounds like

First you would have to convince your neighbour to run this particular piece of HTML5, then attach to his/hers WiFi network in order to exchange packets with proxy running in his/hers browser window. But hey, if you can access WiFi then why would you go through proxy in the first place?

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Paris Hilton

Re: This sounds like

Considering that you'd need to break into their house, hack into their computer, and then leave a webpage running (and probably logged into an account under your name unless you use a stolen credit card to pay the bill)... wouldn't it be easier to just steal their car and pay for your own internet with the money? Alternatively you could just mug them or kidnap their dog.

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The details are unimportant,

I assume that Microsoft Outlook supports HTML 5 in e-mails? Job done?

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Re: The details are unimportant,

I can't speak for Microsoft Outlook 2010, but Outlook 2007 uses Word's HTML rendering engine. In other words, it supports exactly 0 HTML standards.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

lol

quote:

"XPornApp's new business model of handing out free pornography turned out to be unsustainable.

No such problems for Amazon"

I thought you were going to announce that Amazon had begun working on a new market.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: lol

Amazon's foray into porn didn't last long. Apparently the market for single breasted women wasn't big enough.

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Re: lol

LOL! Well played, sir, well played. You win the Intarnetz for the day.

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How long until Apple withdraw html5 support then?

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Trollface

yay back to flash :-)

(that there rumbling noise in the background is st steve revolving in his grave ad about 40000 rpm)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: yay back to flash :-)

40000 rpm would be more than a rumble, ultrasonic whine more like.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 40000rpm

he could drill his way out again at that speed. my Dremel only goes up to 33000

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Apple's contributions to WebKit are large part of the reason mobile devices (including Android ones) have browsers with strong standards support (including html 5).

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Facepalm

@aThingOrTwo

They've created a monster.

It would have been a good thing, but now it allows you to do forbidden stuff and must be closed as an exploit vector.

I'm sure "Don't Explain The Joke" fits somewhere into here.

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Two downvotes, not counterpoints. Does anyone want to make a counter point?

Apple's WebKit and Safari team have put in a huge amount of time and effort to making a very fast, efficient rendering engine with excellent standards support.

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I disagree.

"HTML5 does enable all sorts of applications to exist outside a manufacturer's limits; this isn't supposed to matter as HTML5 apps don't have access to local files or hardware components such as the camera or microphone, so security isn't an issue".

Regardless of you opinion on whether users should be allowed to tether (and I actually think they should - it's their data allowance, they should be allowed to use it on any device they want), the fact is that this site bypasses a restriction in the operating system of the phone. Who knows what else it bypasses? Restrictions on what data can be sent to the web? Can it access the phone software and dial premium rate numbers? Even assuming the company isn't planning anything dodgy like that, who knows if some hacker won't reverse engineer the product and find out how to do all that?

So, I'd say that security is very much an issue here, and regardless of their policy on tethering, it's an issue Apple need to address.

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Re: I disagree.

I agree with most of what you say here. The solutions seems to be 'let users tether if they want to' and Apple should stop restricting how people use the devices they own..!!

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FAIL

Re: I disagree.

Tethering is removed at the operators request... But yeah! FU Apple, it's all your fault... except it isn't. Controlling Nazi's.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I disagree.

Why do you feel the site needs to bypass some security restriction in order to do this?

This "technology" isn't exactly rocket science, they're simply using the standard WebSockets support in the browser. You even have to set the display lock to "Never" otherwise the iPhone stops the connection when the lock screen kicks in.

The bad part is they have to tunnel all the traffic to their servers (that's why they charge quite a bit) first, they don't really use your connectivity directly.

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Re: I disagree.

"Tethering is removed at the operators request... But yeah! FU Apple, it's all your fault... except it isn't. Controlling Nazi's."

Yep. They could tell the operators to just "get fucked" as the person is paying for the device and the usage and yet is being told how they can use it. You think Apple's behaviour in this is acceptable?

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WTF?

This tethering things really annoys me.....

... because if I own the 'phone and the laptop, and I am on an 'unlimited' tariff * then surely it is up to me which way round I do stuff ?

I have often used tethering on my Nokia E65, not for a huge amount, but when 'needed' for work, rather than just because I am bored. Being able to get stuff from my laptop, through the 'phone and out is often more straightforward than transferring content via usb stuck, or Bluetooth, then using the 'phones client to do the sending.

This concept of using my equipment how I want to and paying a premium for this really does stick in the craw…….

* Yes I know there I no such thing as 'unlimited' but I will decide how I use the 'fair use allowance'………..

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Facepalm

They charge for tethering?

Who on earth would agree to that?

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Re: They charge for tethering?

A free one will be along soon - thats the trouble with standards: you cant charge people for what they own anyway for long.

Unless you call it an iTether...

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clever

So now Apple can have the networks annoyed at them for allowing tethering that hasn't been paid for and they're missing out on 30% of any subscriptions to the app.

Of course this is easily solvable by Apple, is there a need for open incoming ports on a phone?

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Kind of obvious solution

Run a proxy on the phone PC hits the proxy, the proxy makes the request. In theory the proxy could diddle the user agent string so the pc's requests look like they come from a phone or a tablet device. The problem is a lot of sites serve up special content so it might not be ideal. Second option is some kind of VPN proxy. Device opens a VPN to somewhere the operator can't look at and the PC talks through the tunnel.

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WTF?

or, you could just use a network like o2, that does let you tether (within the limits of your data cap, on the right tariff) , and use the personal hotspot feature built into iOS.....

I do this on the odd occasion that i need data on my ipad when away from wifi, quite useful, massive saving on buying the 3g model and have extra monthly payments to make.

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Anonymous Coward

Apparently residents of other countries don't have such good options as we do in the UK.

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Windows

Apparently residents of other countries don't have such good options as you do in the UK.

Dunno. Where I live, there was a temporary outage of panOulu - the city-wide free network. I was in adult education at the time, and a lot of folks were griping they couldn't use their online Finnish - English/Persian/Gaelic directories anymore.

Got the N8 out, fired up Joikuspot, tethered the phone, broadcast the WiFi without password, everyone happy. I'm uncapped, but I was surprised how (relatively) little data transferred. Less than a gig. for most of the classes on my floor. They got 'acceptable' bandwidth, too.

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O2 and tethering

While I was with O2 they officially didn't allow tethering, even while they were still doing "unlimited" internet deals. However, according to the manager of the O2 shop I got my last phone from, when asked about tethering, the response I got, in a discrete hushed tone, was that O2 turn a blind eye as long as, in his words: "you don't take the p*ss".

This seemed fair enough to me, and I appreciated the frankness, so I did tether and didn't take the p*ss... never heard a peep out of O2 over my data usage in 2 years.

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Pint

Tether is great

I don't use it much but on the od occasion where the Office Network goes down, it's great to have. Didn't use nearly as much data as I thought it would.

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Anonymous Coward

So a HTML5 webpage can open a port on the local network and listen for incoming connection?

And there aren't any security implications in doing this?

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Re: So a HTML5 webpage can open a port on the local network and listen for incoming connection?

Interesting question. I'm only speculating here, but since it apparently requires specialized software on the tethered computer, perhaps it works in reverse. Run the server on that end and have the phone connect to it as a client. Once you've got a connection going, it doesn't matter that much which way it was set up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So a HTML5 webpage can open a port on the local network and listen for incoming connection?

I suspect it creates two outgoing tunnels one to their server, and one to your pc (where you run some software)

I do similar with SSH tunnels on occasion when I need to access a server on a pc behind a NAT

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WTF?

Re: So a HTML5 webpage can open a port on the local network and listen for incoming connection?

I suspect the above are correct in how it works, but it still leaves a question of why Apple allow the device (or a web-app running on the device) to use two data-bearers (wifi and *G) at the same time. What the heck would you use that capability for, other than tethering?

Maybe this is obvious to an iPhone owner, but I can't even get my head around *how* a mere web page, HTML5 or otherwise, can specify which data-bearer to use for a particular connection. Anyone?

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Got it on 3

Bought my new 4S iPhone on contract from Three. I mentioned to the salesman that it'd be handy if I could tether my work iMac through the phone for net surfing. He offered me the option as a bolt on to my package for an extra 5 quid a month. I twisted so he said he'd have a word with his manager. He came back and offered me the bolt on for an extra 2 quid a month. I still twisted over paying 48 quid over the contract length for something I wasn't that bothered about.

Anyway, he said in that case, I'd have to go without. When I got home and started mucking about with the phone I was amazed to find I could activate the wifi hotspot feature. It definitely isn't mentioned in my £25pm month plan so I have no idea how I've got the feature. Not complaining as it's turned out to be more useful than I thought but I'd be most peed off if I'd handed over the extra £5pm and then discovered I could tether for nothing anyway.

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FAIL

Tethering is a marketing led rip-off

I've had a long-running argument with Vodafone over "tethering" - I see it as analogous to flogging a punter electricity and charging them extra to use their cooker "because it uses more power than your lights". I have a 500MB data allowance and how I use it should be up to me. If I go over my allowance, so be it - I get charged for it.

It seems that tethering is only charged if you have an iPhone. I've had it confirmed that if I use my old Palm, data used "tethering" my laptop will just come out of my monthly allowance as it always did. If I use my iPhone, I get charged a fiver even if I use a few kB. What makes me really cross is that I was categorically at time of purchase that I wouldn't incur extra charges. I've asked countless times for a technical reason why they charge tethering, yet not for using another device, no-one at Vodafone can give a tangible reason.

If Apple hadn't introduced the ability for a telco to distinguish that the phone is feeding an external device, they would find it hard to charge extra. And it's sold like it's something new and a "feature"

I have another year to go on my contract and will seriously look at swapping after 10. Shame as they have up until now been quite good. The galling part is that if I want to stay with a telco that provides a 2G network, my choice is limited to O2 which fills me with dread.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tethering is a marketing led rip-off

Well don't go buying an iPhone seems to the the answer, I suspect its more likely HOW the iPhone does it is the issue, as i've used my SGS as a hotspot loads of time and never been charged outside my pitiful 500mb allowance.

More likely its Apple saying we people using 3G iPads with a separate contract rather than buying a cheaper one and tethering, assuming iPhone users are more likely to buy an iPad....

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Death of the walled garden?

Apple have tried to kill Flash because it doesn't work on their phones, so HTML5 has received a big push...but what does this mean for Apple's app store? Google is set up for the idea of a browser as a portal for cloud services, but Apple clearly isn't. If most popular apps end up being web apps, how will Apple control what their customers use? Will they require every HTML5 website to pass their quality control system or block access to their devices? At the moment the huge number of apps available to Apple devices is a big selling point, but if Apple start blocking lots of HTML5 websites the situation will flip over and Android and Windows devices will become more functional.

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Facepalm

wtf

iv been using [mywi] on my iphone for years to tether it and make a wifi AP.

So this is nothing new.

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Only HTTP then?

Can't be "real" IP tethering, no way. This thing will just work as a kind of HTTP proxy, sending the content of web pages over from the iPhone to another device with some custom software running on it. A bad crutch, at best.

Paying for tethering would be reasonable if you had unlimited bandwidth on a mobile device, but if you get tight limits anyway it should be your choice how you consume your bandwidth. Luckily my provider does it exactly this way, tethering just works.

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Capped plans?

Any plan with a cap surely has no right to request no tethering since you've paid for the bandwidth!

Telstra allows tethering on the iphone, but I couldn't determine if ipad3 allowed it.

Android phone working as wifi hotspot > Apple tethering

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