SmartPhone downloading away from WiFi

My wife and I travel together a lot. To make the time pass quickly, we will often load up our iPhones with audiobooks and then use a splitter with dual volume controls to listen to a novel together. It’s a great deal of fun!

Sometimes we haven’t brought enough material, and we discover we are hours away from WiFi … and our audiobook apps don’t let us download new material through 3G. That’s a sensible precaution for those who might do it a lot, or who might have tiny data plans. But we both have 6 gigabyte data plans we almost never max out, so the restriction is annoying, particularly when we want to get the last chapters of a thrilling book.

The solution is actually quite simple: one of us uses an iPhone to share the 3G connection via WiFi, and the other turns off 3G and connects to the ad-hoc WiFi network. The audio app now thinks it is on high-speed, and it allows us to download the missing file.

You can use this trick in many different circumstances, and not just between phones. For example, we sail and cycle a lot, too, and we often find ourselves in new territory that requires a new bike-path map or a marine navigation file. More than once, we’ve been able to download a new map file into an iPad through an iPhone 3G connection shared over WiFi.

Just watch those usage fees: you can go over the limit if you use this trick indiscriminately. This is a great idea to get a size-limited resource in a remote location, but NOT such a great way to download the entire back catalog of 24 in high definition.

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