One of the many benefits of using Android is the mulitple different ways users can achieve certain tasks, and one in particular we’re focusing on today is sharing your data connection to a nearby tablet or laptop.
Android’s WiFi Tether or Hotspot feature allows you to share and use your mobile phones data connection on your tablet and nearby computers at the same time. Essentially sharing the connection with another device. Most carriers charge more for hotspot or tethering, but many recent family plans have it enabled by default. Either way, it’s a process of fumbling through settings and clicking 5-6 different buttons, but below is a guide to enable a widget offering a one-click solution to sharing your mobile data connection.
Instead of signing onto that slow WiFi connection at Starbucks or a hotel while you travel, you might as well use the fast 4G LTE data connection on your Android smartphone from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and others. Often times your phone is much faster than the free WiFi from a hotel. Once you enable the WiFi hotspot feature shown below, sign on to that connection with your tablet or laptop in the WiFi menu rather than the hotel or free wireless internet.
As a reminder, you may want to check with your carrier first as some may incur tethering charges upwards of $20 if the option isn’t enabled on your plan. Most carriers block it completely without checking first, but the widget can sometimes bypass that and enable this awesome and must-have feature. I use WiFi tether all the time, and here’s the best way to turn it on or off with a single click.
There’s many ways to enable WiFi Hotspot or tethering on Android, but the easiest is adding a widget (or shortcut) to your homescreen which will turn the feature on with a single tap. Rather than head into settings, WiFi and Networks, hotspot, add a password, and then enable, just set it up first and use the app mentioned below.
You’ll want to head to the Google Play Store and search for “hotspot widget” which will bring up tons of results, as this is a fairly popular tool and widget for smartphone and business users. My favorite is the round icon simply named “WiFi HotSpot” as you can see from the images below. Once installed this isn’t an app in your app tray, but a widget from the widgets menu.
Now all Android devices are different based on manufacturer, but you’ll need to tap the menu button and head into widgets or the “add a widget” option. From here you’ll see multiple widgets for music, weather, clocks, Google search and much more. Scroll through the choices until you see our new WiFi HotSpot widget (the round icon with a wireless logo) and select it. You’ll hold and drag to the homescreen of choice, or simple tap it and select “Add to homescreen” based on which phone you’re using. Below you’ll see the menu of widgets, me selecting and adding it to a homescreen, then the last image it’s blue, which means I’ve tapped it once and turned on mobile hotspot. It’s that easy.
Depending on what hotspot widget you select to download and install from the Play Store, the icon may look and act differently. The one I’ve shown above will present a nice round icon as you see above. When it’s read WiFi tether or hotspot is not enabled, but one tap will enable data sharing, and you’ll see the icon turn blue, and the “tethering or hotspot active” notification appear as you see in the far right screenshot.
That’s it. You’re now sharing the high speed 4G LTE data connection from your Android device. Now just turn on WiFi on your laptop or tablet, find your smartphones shared connection, and connect to instantly have internet access. Although, you may want to head to:
settings > wireless & networks > more > tethering & portable hotspot > and select Set up WiFi hotspot to rename the connection so it stands out, and add a password so others can’t use it.
Below is a quick how to video with a visual set of instructions to download, select, and use the WiFi Hotspot widget on Android.
Should You Use This?
While WiFi tethering is an extremely powerful tool that will give you full and fast internet access to a laptop or a tablet using your phone, some carriers want an additional $20 a month to allow you to use this feature. As a result, you may want to add this option to your smartphone plan, then use the widget detailed above for a one-click method to easily turn it on and off.
If you already have WiFi hotspot and tethering as a part of your mobile plan and just want to know how to enable it quicker, without fumbling through the settings menu, this is the easiest way to do so. Simply add a widget to any screen and you’ll be tethering in no time. I love this feature and use it a few times a week while traveling, and highly suggest a widget to make your life simple. Remember, make sure your carrier isn’t charging you for tethering before you start, otherwise you’ll be in for a surprise when your next monthly statement arrives.