It's good to have Wi-Fi tethering on some smartphones these days as it has a number of advantages over Bluetooth when it comes to connecting notebooks and other devices over a mobile to the Internet:
- Wi-Fi is now built into virtually any consumer device with services requiring Internet access while Bluetooth is not yet universally available, especially in the notebook and netbook sector
- It's easy to set-up for the average user
- Several people can share the connection simultaneously
- The transmission speed of Wi-Fi is sufficient for 3G high speed data rates while Bluetooth is limited to 2-3 MBit/s.
Any disadvantage? Yes, tethering has to be manually activated/deactivated on the mobile as running the Wi-Fi chip on the mobile in access point mode quickly depletes the battery. This is unlike Bluetooth that I have switched on all the time and can thus be used for Internet connectivity without prior interaction with the device.
So what's the next step? One thing I like about Bluetooth is that I can quickly browse the file system of the mobile to transfer files such as pictures I have taken to the notebook, again without interacting with the mobile device prior to the transfer. The disadvantage is again the slow transmission speed for about 2-3 Mbit/s, making the transfer of more than two or three pictures, each being 1-2 megabytes a somewhat uncomfortable procedure.
This is where Wi-Fi tethering could help in the future. As the mobile is reachable via an IP address it could also host an SMB server so any Windows/Linux/Mac box could access the files on the device and transfers would be much quicker than over Bluetooth. Especially a plus if lots of content has to be transferred.
So let's see when this functionality will be built in as well…