Apple yanks iPhone tethering app from App Store

Now you see it, now you don't. Apple squashes another carrier-sidestepping tethering app

Apple has removed a tethering app for the iPhone called iTether that let users share the smartphone's cellular connection to the Internet with a Mac or Windows notebook. The developer, 3052155 Nova Scotia, already had similar apps for Android and BlackBerry users, debuting the latter in 2009 and adding the former in 2010. While it was available on the App Store, iPhone owners could download iTether and use it to connect their Mac or Windows notebooks to the Web using the iPhone's 3G connection. Computerworld confirmed that iTether worked as advertised -- a MacBook Air equipped with the client could access the Internet sans Wi-Fi -- and that it continued working even after Apple pulled the program.

iTether landed in Apple's App Store late Monday, and while it was available as of 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, 45 minutes later it had been yanked from the App Store. At that time, the App Store returned the boilerplate message: "Your request could not be completed. The item you've requested is not currently available in the U.S. store."

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Apple has regularly -- and quickly -- booted earlier tethering apps from the App Store, typically without explanation.

iTether was priced at $14.99 in the App Store while it was available. A companion application was required for any Mac OS X- or Windows-based notebook; that free application can still be downloaded from the website.

On Tuesday, was online, but very sluggish due to traffic driven by multiple media reports of the new app's availability on iOS. Developers then shifted some of the Mac/Windows client download traffic to a Facebook page.

Before Apple pulled the plug, 3052155 Nova Scotia developers said that they were furiously adding server capacity to handle the influx of users. "Our team is battling all the traffic .... We've added 20 web servers to handle the load," the company said on Twitter around 10 a.m. ET.

The company could not be reached for comment on the disappearance of its iOS app, but earlier Tuesday, quoted the firm as saying, "We were very clear with Apple what our app did. They asked us a bunch of questions and then approved us."

Mobile carriers usually charge extra for tethering services. AT&T, for example, prices its tethering service at $20 per month, with a 2GB data allowance.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

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This story, "Apple yanks iPhone tethering app from App Store" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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