Apple Kills Everyone's Buzz At Once: Tethering On AT&T Is Dead, Pre Blocked In iTunes


And yet another game of cat and mouse begins.

Over the past 24 hours, Apple has released updates for both iTunes and the iPhone beta SDK. While both are seemingly minor on the feature front, each packs a bit of disappointment for those who had been using loopholes to their advantage.

First off the bat was a new beta release of the iPhone 3.1 SDK. Within minutes of the news breaking, developers were tearing it apart in search of new gems. Tucked inside was the ability to debug over WiFi and a new API for modifying video as it comes out of the camera. What’s more important than what’s new, however, is what is gone: Tethering. Up until now, AT&T customers have been able to use a carrier file hack to enable tethering on their handsets. With this latest build of 3.1, this hack has been disabled. If you’re relying on iPhone tethering for connectivity, we wouldn’t recommend jumping on 3.1 until there’s a workaround or AT&T finally gets on the ball with this whole tethering ordeal.

Next up was the iTunes 8.2.1 update, which mentions “addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices” as one of the two listed bug fixes (the other item being just, well, “bug fixes”). In real people speak, this means “blocks the Palm Pre from syncing with iTunes”. The Palm Pre had been falsely identifying itself as an iPod in order to allow iTunes users to sync with it. Just as we had predicted a month ago, Apple has swung back at Palm for trying to sneak their way into their closed garden.

Both of these moves are understandable, though they seem quite mean-spirited. AT&T is still remaining mostly mum on when they’ll have an iPhone tethering option available, only speaking up to debunk rumors of pricing or availability. With the Palm Pre, Apple really only needed to do what they already had: say they don’t support it. They could have just moved on from there, making no effort to ensure that the iTunes was Pre-friendly in the future. Everyone would be happy (except for the customer service reps who had to spout the occasional “Sorry, we don’t support that phone” shutdown), and iTunes would have more users as a result.