USB tethering is one of those miracle features that really makes you appreciate the omnipotent abilities of smartphones. Who needs pricey 4G contracts on tablets, laptops, etc., when you can just plug your phone into your computer? Also, did you know that USB tethering can also turn your phone into a WiFi adapter? Mindblowing stuff …
But as of the Android Lollipop update, a lot of smartphone owners (particularly from the HTC and Samsung camps) have been complaining that USB tethering stopped working, depriving them of one of their device’s fanciest functions.
I had this problem, but then I discovered several third-party USB tethering apps that saved me (without the need for rooting!)
A Few Things to Know
I tried out several of the tethering apps, but quite a few of them (USB Tether and Tethering Toggler, to name a couple) only provide shortcuts to the built-in Android tethering options which doesn’t resolve anything if that’s not working.
I’ve also tried out some of the other most popular tethering apps on the Play Store – including USB Tethering and Easy Tether Lite – but neither worked for me, despite my computer seemingly connecting to my phones and treating them as tethering points. With that said, both of those apps have had some good reviews, too, so if my personal picks below don’t work for you, then there’s no harm in trying the above out.
Finally, you’ll need to enable USB debugging on your device for these apps to work. To do this, go to “Settings -> About -> Software information -> More,” then tap the “Build number” seven times to become a developer. Next, go back to “Settings,” and you’ll see a new option called “Developer options.” Tap it, then tick the box next to “USB debugging.”
Anyone who’s dabbled in rooting their phone will be immediately familiar with ClockworkMod – the recovery app that’s the go-to for most people when it comes to rooting their devices.
Not that you need to do any rooting here, as the ClockworkMod developers have released a USB tethering app that worked like a treat for me. The free version is just a 14-day trial, but if it works for you, then $4.99 isn’t a high price to pay for something so useful.
You’ll need to download the accompanying computer app for this to work. This could be a problem if you don’t have an Internet connection on your PC, but conveniently the Android app offers to download the installer to your Android device, at which point you just need to connect it to your PC, copy the installer over to Windows, then use it to install the app.
This runs in the background on your phone and detects when you run the desktop app on your PC, immediately establishing an Internet connection. It works very well indeed and is my pick for the best USB tethering app on Android.
But if the above doesn’t work for you, then it’s only responsible that I proffer a second option. FoxFi isn’t quite as popular as some of the others I mentioned in this article, but you know what? It works, and that counts for a lot in a category of app where few things seem to function quite as they should.
Like ClockworkMod’s option, you need to install an accompanying desktop app for this to work. While it does the job and has some neat extra options like Bluetooth tethering, the free version has the annoying habit of interrupting your tethering every few hundred MB or so, forcing you to either switch on the tethering again or buy the full app, which costs $7.95.
Both these workarounds cost a little bit for unfettered use, but if you’ve found yourself in the situations where there’s no other way to get Internet on your PC, then it’s worth it. If you want to save yourself some money and have a rooted device, then there are some great free options such as Barnacle WiFi Tether and WiFi Tethering. Take your pick!