“Have you ever found yourself in need of an Internet connection on your desktop or laptop computer, but your home connection is down or you have no access to public WiFi? If you have an Android phone with an active mobile data connection, 3G or 4G usually, then you can often harness it to connect your other device by way of a feature called tethering.”
Sound familiar? If so, you may have read my recent post about connecting your computer or other device to the Internet using the connection provided by your Android phone via a method called USB tethering. Today we will focus on Wifi tethering, a different method I mentioned in that same post. Before we start though, what is WiFi tethering?
WiFi tethering is different from USB tethering in that you do not need to connect your phone to your other device with a USB cable; instead, your phone sort of acts like a router that broadcasts the signal wirelessly, allowing you to establish a connection like you would when connecting to a dedicated WiFi network. To do so is quite simple and does not require you to root or modify your phone in any other way. All you need to do is download and install one app!
As a quick aside, I will include the same disclaimer I wrote in the aforementioned post about USB tethering:
“Using your mobile data connection contributes toward your monthly data limit, regardless of the device on which you use it. If you have unlimited data, some carriers may disable your ability to use the built-in tethering options on your phone. Using other methods of tethering to circumvent that restriction may violate carrier policy. As long as you use your data responsibly and not in excess, however, then using the tethering capabilities of your device is perfectly acceptable.”
FoxFi, available for free on the Play Store, is the app I will use to demonstrate how to use your phone as a WiFi hotspot. Unfortunately the app description indicates that WiFi mode in FoxFi does not function on certain phones. On the bright side, Bluetooth mode, which transmits the Internet connection via Bluetooth instead of creating a WiFi hotspot, seems to function on all phones. For those of you who may own one of the phones listed in the description, I will cover Bluetooth mode too!
Truthfully though, FoxFi does not require much in the way of set up. After you download and install the app, ensure that your mobile data connection is active (3G or 4G both work well). Then Launch FoxFi and you will be greeted with the following screen:
All you need to do is select the box next to “Activate WiFi Hotspot”, the first option under “WiFi Mode”, and then wait for the app to do what it needs to do. You will receive two updates in the status bar while the app is working.
Once it finishes, FoxFi will push two persistent notifications to the status bar that prompt you to perform additional setup or view network activity, but you can do everything you need to do in the app itself after the initial activation.
The first item on the agenda is changing the network name. Now if you happen to be at home and you are the only person using the hotspot, then you may not need to do so; but if your friends and family want to use it or if you are in a setting where multiple WiFi networks are available, then changing the default name to a more unique one can be beneficial for identifying the network easily.
Next, regardless of your location, you should create a password. Creating a password ensures that the hotspot is protected from unauthorized access, whether it be from strangers who have no business using your Internet connection or malicious individuals seeking to hijack the connection for illicit purposes.
After you complete those two small tasks, open the appropriate menu on your laptop or tablet and look for the network name you created. Select it, enter the password you created, and that should do it!
For additional options like enabling a proxy to hide tether usage from your carrier (which requires a bit of additional configuration in your browser settings) or sending logs to the developer, FoxFi also provides the free FoxFi AddOn. An option to install the add-on appears in the menu in the app itself. Subsequently the extra options from the add-on appear in the menu once you have installed it.
Now onto Bluetooth mode! Again, not much is required in the way of setup. Simply select the box next to “Activate Bluetooth DUN”, the first option under “Bluetooth Mode”. If you have not already turned Bluetooth on in your phone settings, the app will do it for you or prompt you to do so.
Once Bluetooth is on, the app will prompt you to make your phone discoverable by other Bluetooth devices for a duration of 120 seconds, allowing you time to ready your laptop or tablet to connect.
And now you know how to use your Android phone as a wireless hotspot without paying anything additional to your carrier! If you have any other categories you would like us to tackle, any apps you would like us to review, or any lessons about Android you would like to learn, please let us know in the comments. Thank you for reading!
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