I’ve had my Windows Phone 8 for enough months now that it’s become part of the family that lives in my pockets, along with my car and house keys, customer reward cards, manually operated comb, and wallet. I’ve even explored a few comforting apps, including a couple favorites: Sheldonisms++ (from Big Bang Theory) and Microsoft Lync mobile, pinning them to my increasingly colorful collection of home-screen live tiles.
The feature with which I’ve grown enamored, however, is Internet sharing. By tapping my Settings tile, then the Internet sharing link, I can turn my phone into a hot spot that connects my laptop or tablet to the Web. Need to edit emailed documents in the airport? Take that, Boingo. My phone gets me online for free. Finished my e-book at the gate and need to download a new one before my next flight? Turn on Internet sharing and fire up the Kindle. Want to imitate those commercials where people are working on their laptops while splayed across lounge chairs on the beach? I can actually do that with Internet sharing, since it connects me to the Internet through my phone carrier service. I could even watch a movie on the big laptop screen instead of the phone if I wanted—and if my 5 gig data plan holds out.
I know Internet sharing is not among the most novel smartphone features, but on Windows Phone 8, it actually works—a new experience for this erstwhile owner of apparently the world’s lowest tech phones (my first one, in the early 1990s, was permanently packaged in a bag).
It’s also a progressively more important feature for me. For example, I will be spending some time this summer in Alaska, helping relatives pack up their house to finish their move to Kentucky (an eminently wise decision for them). They’ve disconnected their cable service, however, so I would be isolated much of the time without my phone’s ability to keep me online. AT&T assures me my phone’s Internet sharing will allow me to work in Anchorage just as I normally do, exchanging communications and documents with colleagues in Michigan and California, and to watch my favorite TV shows via online networks.
So thank you, Internet sharing. Now if I can find an app for dessert sharing, I’ll be a really happy traveler.
Steve Friedman is the Director of Marketing Communications for Airfoil, a high-tech PR and marcomm firm with offices in Silicon Valley and Detroit.