Is MyTether a Black-Eye for Homebrew?

Last week, myTether released an update to their application that added support for Verizon’s new Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus. For those unfamiliar with the app, it allows you to utilize your Palm Pre Plus or Palm Pixi Plus as a wireless modem, allowing you to use your webOS device to connect a laptop to the Internet.

black-eye

While this application has been available for Sprint phones, the latest version competes directly with Palm’s own Mobile Hotspot and more importantly Verizon’s $30 per month service. One of the impressive features of the new webOS devices has been their ability to transform into a personal MiFi. The myTether homebrew app requires a donation of $14.95. No reoccurring monthly fees and it provides the same feature.

Palm has been very supportive of homebrew and to date, updates to webOS haven’t slowed the movement. In many ways, the homebrew developer community has been a breeding ground for applications, many of which graduate from PreCentral’s Homebrew App Gallery to the Official App Catalog. Homebrew is the minor league for apps before busting into the majors. It’s allowed developers to test their applications, while end users get the benefit of free software, understanding that apps in this phase are in beta. myTether would never be accepted into the App Catalog, since it’s a drain on network resources and wireless providers are not being paid for service. When you contract for unlimited data plan on your phone, the wireless company does not expect that you’ll be using large chunks of data associated with laptop use.

wifi-on-small

In the short time it’s been around, the Homebrew developer community has made remarkable strides and have established standards and proper protocols for developers when creating their apps. myTether has drawn criticism for it’s installation practices, sometimes disrupting core webOS functionality. From personal experience, I’ve used myTether and it disabled my camera. I opted for a Verizon MiFi and a stable phone.  The developer has reportedly addressed those issues with it’s latest version. Preware’s Rod Whitby recently reviewed the application and surmised.

So, in summary, again with regard specifically to the installation, non-interference, and security aspects of MyTether, it seems that version 2.1.0 has now reached the point where it should safely install and uninstall in accordance with homebrew best practices, not interfere with other unrelated webOS functions, and not trivially compromise the security of the device.

It appears that Aonic now conforms to the best practices of the homebrew developer community, which is great for all parties involved, most importantly those installing homebrew apps. Unfortunately, myTether is also also a prime example of why companies such as Apple lock down their platform. One could argue that Palm’s MobileHotspot for Verizon webOS devices is the killer feature available on Palm webOS devices or any phones on the Verizon network. For Verizon, it’s about plans — voice, data and MobileHotspot requires a $30 a month plan. Over two years, that’s $720. The homebrew alternative is $14.95. Verizon cannot be pleased, but what’s their recourse and how will this affect Homebrew going forward?

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