I have had the original Motorola Droid since last November just after it launched, and I have been extremely happy with the device and the Android operating system. Aside from the mediocre keyboard (which I’ve gotten used to over time) I have had an absolutely fantastic experience with the Droid – it is my constant companion, and I greatly appreciate how it has improved in many ways during the time since purchase thanks to app updates and operating system upgrades.
Back in May I grabbed a Palm Pre Plus on eBay. I was going on a business trip and bringing my iPad as well as my work laptop, so I figured the WiFi hotspot would be a lifesaver during the long layovers I had each way. I was absolutely right – the Palm Pre Plus worked great as a hotspot (albeit sucking down the already mediocre battery life), and it really added value to my trip.
I already had been using PDANet, the USB tethering solution available in the Android Market that turns your phone into a 3G modem for your laptop. That is great for doing remote work while driving – and my project manager and I each got loads done this way on a trip back in March while the other drove. Paying for the full version allowed me to access my work servers over VPN to replicate back some data.
Since then I sold off the Pre Plus … because aside from the hotspot feature I liked EVERYTHING about the Droid better. I have missed the WiFi hotspot on occasion, but more and more there is adequate public WiFi coverage to handle most of my needs. Yet for those other times I continued to lament the lack of built-in WiFi hotspot app for the Droid.
For many, the answer has always been simple – ‘root your phone’. In a process similar to the iPhone ‘jailbreaking’, ‘rooting’ “is like having the Administrator user password on a Windows machine or the root password on a Mac OS X machine or Linux machine. It essentially gives you the right to modify anything on the phone.” (Quote from Joel) We did a GearChat about rooting and the Droid X here.
Once rooted, you can install apps that require greater access than the OS normally allows, and modify the core behavior in order to add extra home screens or install a screenshot utility, for example. Or add a WiFi hotspot app – one of the most common uses if the various Android forums are an indicator.
I have stayed away from rooting, since my experience with the Droid has been uniformly excellent, and my need for a WiFi hotspot not so great to risk changing that.
Last week word began to leak out that Verizon would be rolling out the Froyo (Android 2.2) upgrade to users of the original Droid starting on August 2nd in small batches, accelerating later in the week. For many folks (including me) this has been frothingly anticipated – Froyo has integrated tethering, built-in WiFi hotspot, added home screens, and much more. So I was eagerly awaiting my upgrade.
Yesterday we got word via Verizon that one thing that would NOT be getting either the WiFi hotspot OR the USB tethering feature:
“The Droid by Motorola doesn’t have [the] hardware to support a Mobile Hotspot. With tethering there is no Connection on the PC side that will allow you to tether the device so the answer is that option isn’t part of this update.”
Of course, anyone using PDANet (which doesn’t even require root access) or using WiFi hotspot via a rooted Droid is saying ‘What?!?! Huh?!?’ as we know that statement is just not correct.
So this morning I was checking the tech news and came a cross a post at Droid-Life called “Official DROID Froyo Watch…” that is a wrapper for any and all news they have as the upgrades start to trickle in.
At the bottom of the article in the links was once titled Easy Root, the Newest 1-Touch DROID Rooting App. I asked the Gear Diary folks about it … and then decided to just take the leap. The app costs $0.99 in the App Market, and is a quick download.
In the few minutes before I got a reply, I was able to scan the barcode, buy the app, install it, reboot my phone, launch the app and then download and install the WiFi hotspot. There are several available, but I chose Barnacle since I’d heard about it on forums. Everything worked great and my iPad was online via my phone quickly and easily.
Should you root your phone? That is a tough call – rooting and installing apps that require root access has the chance to ‘brick’ your device, making it useless. It generally voids your warranty as well. Sometimes trying to install an ‘over the air’ official update on top of a rooted phone can cause issues. So it is not something to be done lightly.
But if you DO decide to root your Droid, Easy Root worked very quickly and easily for me, and provided me with a utility I was all ready to pay Verizon $30 a month on top of my normal bill … but will now have for free since it isn’t available officially on my phone and apparently never will be.
Source: Droid Life