Google has a pretty awesome trick up its sleeve for Android 2.2 (code-named Froyo). TechCrunch reports Froyo will ship with built-in tethering capabilities. In other words, you’ll be able to connect a laptop or desktop computer to your Android phone via a USB cable and share the 3G mobile broadband connection. You’ll also be able to turn your phone into a mobile WiFi hotspot, sharing your internet connection with any laptop or other WiFi enabled device with just a few taps.
It’s possible to do both of these things today. You can install an app like PdaNet to share your internet connection with a computer over USB or Bluetooth. And if you have a rooted Android phone, you can install software that turns it into a mobile hotspot. But having those features built into the OS is a pretty awesome move.
Of course, it’s not at all clear how kindly the telecoms will take to this. Right now most US mobile carriers offer unlimited data plans for mobile phones — but charge $40 to $60 per month if you purchase a 3G modem to use with a laptop. And the laptop plans usually have data caps of about 5GB. In other words, if you use the built-in tethering too much, wireless carriers could decide that they’re losing money — and may impose restrictions on your mobile data plan. Or maybe they’ll just charge you extra to use tethering on your phone.