Google failed in the launch of its first Android phone, but part of the problem was that we didn't understand the benefits of not buying from the phone company. The wonderful thing about Google's line of smartphones is that they are completely unlocked. I have the Nexus S, and...
- It allows me to use different SIM cards when travelling internationally, which eliminates the horrendous roaming-cost problem. (This is why phone companies don't want your phone to be unlocked.) My Google Nexus S phone has so far been home to five SIM cards: Mobilicity (Canada), Fido (Canada), Roam Mobility (USA), Blau (Germany), and Globe (Philippines).
- It provides Internet access to my other portable devices through its Access Point function. This solves the problem when hotels want to charge Internet access fees, or there is no Internet access at all. In this case, the cell phone accesses the Internet through the cell phone system, and then passes the signal along to a notebook computer or tablet through WiFi or a USB cable. I've used this function in places as disparate as an isolated cabin on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia and in an ultra modern room of a brand-new hotel in the center of Munich.
(In smartphones you buy from phone companies, both functions are turned off, typically; or, the phone company charges you extra to use them.)
To enable the access point function, tap Menu, System Settings, More, and then Tethering & Portable Hotpot.
From here, there are two choices:
- Connect the smartphone to the computer with a USB cable. Pro: eliminates the need to set up the WiFi hotspot; technically is more secure; Con: lets only one devices access the smartphone, within the limited distance of the USB cable. In this case, connect the USB cable between the two, and then turn on USB Tethering. After a while, the notebook computer should realized that it has a wired network connection.
- Connect the smartphone to multiple devices with WiFi. Pro: allows up to five devices to access the Internet through the cell phone; eliminates cables; lets you place the smartphone at the best location to pick up the strongest cell phone signal. Con: runs into a bug, for which I have a solution described below. To use WiFi, turn on Portable WiFi Hotspot.
The default name of the WiFi hotspot is "AndroidAP" (short for Android access point). The first time you use WiFi access point, everything is fine.
The second time, the notebook computer will see the access point, will try to connect, but will fail. It took a while, but I finally found the solution: I need to change the name of the access point each time I connect. To do so, follow these steps:
1. Click Set Up Wi-Fi Hotspot
2. In the Network SSID field, change the name from "AndroidAP" to any thing else. Because you will have to do this every time you want to connect, I suggest using a logical system so that the SSID name never repeats itself. Such as "AndroidAPa," "AndroidAPb," and so on.
3. Click Save. The computer now happily connects to the phone.