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Connecting to the Internet, Bluetooth Devices, and iPhones/iPods with Your iPhone 3G and 3GS

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Brad Miser show you how to connect your iPhone to the Internet and to other iPhones and iPod touches
This chapter is from the book In this chapter, you explore how to connect your iPhone to the Internet and to other iPhones and iPod touches. Topics include the following:

Connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi or wireless cellular networks

Connecting to other devices using Bluetooth

Connecting to other iPhones and iPod touches

Your iPhone has many functions that rely on an Internet connection, with the most obvious being email, web browsing, and so on. However, many default and third-party applications rely on an Internet connection to work as well. Fortunately, you can connect your iPhone to the Internet by connecting it to a Wi-Fi network that provides Internet access. You can also connect to the Internet through a wireless network provided by your cell phone provider.

Using Bluetooth, you can wirelessly connect your iPhone to other devices, such as Bluetooth headsets, headphones, and so on.

With peer-to-peer applications, you can also connect your iPhone to other iPhones and iPod touches to create a local network to exchange information, play games, and so on.

Connecting an iPhone to the Internet

To connect your iPhone to the Internet, you can connect it to a Wi-Fi network that provides Internet access, or you can connect it to a wireless network provided by your cellular provider.

You can use a variety of Wi-Fi networks, including those available in your home, business, or in public places, such as airports, restaurants, and schools. The benefit to Wi-Fi is that the performance of most of these networks is much better than what you will experience with the other options. The downside to a Wi-Fi connection is that you must be in range of one, and in some cases, you need to pay for an account to access a network.

You can also connect to the Internet though wireless data networks provided by your cellular provider. The primary benefits to these cellular networks are that they are typically widely available to you; your iPhone connects to them automatically; and you don’t have to pay any additional fees to use them (beyond the data fees associated with your iPhone account). The downside to these networks is that their performance is less than most Wi-Fi networks, but in some cases, they provide more than adequate performance for most Internet tasks you do.

>>>Step-by-Step: Connecting to an Open Wi-Fi Network

Many Wi-Fi networks broadcast their information so that you can easily see them when searching with your iPhone; these are called open networks because anyone who is in range can attempt to join one because they appear on Wi-Fi devices automatically. These are the easiest to join.

  1. On the Home screen, tap Settings. Next to Wi-Fi, you see the status of your Wi-Fi connection, which is Not Connected if you aren’t currently connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. Tap Wi-Fi.
  3. If Wi-Fi is turned off, tap the OFF button to turn it on. Wi-Fi status becomes ON, and your iPhone immediately starts searching for available networks.
  4. Review the networks that your iPhone finds. For each network, you see its name, whether it is secure, and its signal strength. (I’ve found that the signal strength icon on this screen isn’t very reliable; you probably won’t really know how strong a signal is until you actually connect to the network.)
  5. Tap the network you want to join. (If you recognize only one of the networks, you’ve probably used it before, so it is a good choice.) You also need to consider the security of the network; if you see the padlock icon next to the network’s name, you need a password to join the network and so the Enter Password screen appears. If the network is not marked with the padlock icon, it is not secure, and you can skip to step 8.
  6. Enter the password for the network.
  7. Tap Join. If you provided the correct password, your iPhone connects to the network and gets the information it needs, including an IP address. If not, you’re prompted to enter the password again. After you connect to the network, you return to the Wi-Fi screen.
  8. Review the network information. The network to which you are connected is in blue and is marked with a check mark. You see the signal strength for that network. (This indication is typically more accurate than the one you see before you are connected.)
  9. Tap the Info button for the network to which you are connected. You see the Info screen, which is labeled with the name of the network.
  10. Scroll the screen to review the network’s information. The most important item is the IP Address. If there is no number here or the number starts with 169, the network is not providing an IP address, and you must find another network. You can safely ignore the rest of the information on the screen in most situations. If you want to access some of the more advanced settings, such as HTTP proxy, you need information from the network administrator to access the network, so you need help to get your iPhone connected.
  11. Tap Wi-Fi Networks to return to the Wi-Fi Networks screen.
  12. Move to the Home screen. You should see the Wi-Fi connection icon at the top of the screen; this indicates that you are connected to a network and also indicates the strength of the signal by the number of waves you see.
  13. Tap Safari. Safari opens.
  14. Try to move to a webpage, such as www.apple.com/iphone/. (See Chapter 10, “Surfing the Web,” for details.) If you move to a webpage that is not from a Wi-Fi provider, you’re good to go. If you are taken to a webpage for a Wi-Fi provider, you need an account to access the Internet. If you have a username and password for that network, enter them on the login form. If you don’t have an account, you must obtain one; use the webpage to sign up. After you have an account with that provider, you can get to the Internet.

Connecting to a Commercial Wi-Fi Network

Many networks in public places, such as hotels or airports, require that you pay a fee or provide other information to access that network and the Internet. When you connect to one of these networks, you’re prompted to log in. Check out these steps.

  1. Tap the network you want to join. The iPhone connects to the network, and you see the Log In screen for that network.
  2. Provide the information required to join the network, such as a username and a password. In most cases, you have to indicate that you accept the terms and conditions for using the network, which you typically do by checking a check box.
  3. Tap the button to join the network. This button can have different labels depending on the type of access, such as Free Access, Login, and so on.

Connecting to a Closed Wi-Fi Network

Some networks don’t broadcast their names or availability; these are called closed networks because they are hidden to people who don’t know they exist. To connect to one of these networks, you must know the network’s name because it won’t show up on the iPhone’s list of available networks. You also need to know the type of security the network uses and its password. You have to get this information from the network’s provider.

  1. Follow steps 1 through 3 in “Connecting to an Open Wi-Fi Network” to turn Wi-Fi on and to move to the Wi-Fi Networks screen.
  2. Tap Other. You see the Other Network screen.
  3. Enter the name of the network.
  4. Tap Security.
  5. Tap the type of security the network uses. The options are None, WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA Enterprise, or WPA2 Enterprise. You don’t need to worry about what each of these options means; you just need to pick the right one for the network. You’ll need to get the type of security from the person who manages the network. (The None option is for unsecured networks, but it’s unlikely that a hidden network wouldn’t require a password.) When you select an option, it is marked with a check mark.
  6. Tap Other Network. You move back to the Security screen. In the Security field, you see the type of security you selected, and the Password field appears.
  7. Enter the password.
  8. Tap Join. If the information you entered matches what the network requires, you join the network and can begin to access its resources. If not, you see an error message and have to try it again until you are able to join. When you successfully join the network, you move back to the Wi-Fi Networks screen.
  9. Test the Internet connection as described in step 14 in “Connecting to an Open Wi-Fi Network.”

Changing Networks

You can change the network that your iPhone is using at any time. For example, if you lose Internet connectivity on the current network, you can move your iPhone a different network.

  1. Move to the Settings screen. The network to which your iPhone is currently connected is shown.
  2. Tap Wi-Fi. Your iPhone scans for available networks and presents them to you in the Choose a Network section of the Wi-Fi Networks screen.
  3. Tap the network you want to join. Your iPhone attempts to join the network. If you haven’t joined that network previously and it requires a password, enter it when prompted to do so. After your iPhone connects, you see the new network’s name highlighted in blue and marked with a check mark.

Forgetting Wi-Fi Networks

As you learned earlier, your iPhone remembers networks you have joined and connects to them automatically as needed. Although this is mostly a good thing, occasionally you won’t want to use a particular network any more. For example, when moving through an airport, you might connect to a network for which you have to pay for Internet access, but then you decide you don’t want to use that network after all. Each time you move through that airport, your iPhone connects to that network automatically, which can be annoying. So you might want your iPhone to forget that network so it doesn’t automatically connect to it in the future.

  1. Move to the Wi-Fi Networks screen.
  2. Tap the Info button for the network that you want your iPhone to forget.
  3. Tap Forget This Network.
  4. Tap Forget Network in the resulting prompt. Your iPhone forgets the network, and you return to the Info screen. If your iPhone had been getting an IP address from the network, that address is cleared, and your iPhone attempts to connect to a different network automatically.
  5. Tap Wi-Fi Networks. You return to the Wi-Fi Networks screen. If a network you’ve forgotten is still available to your iPhone, it continues to appear in the Choose a Network list, but your iPhone will no longer automatically connect to it. You can rejoin the forgotten network at any time just as you did the first time you connected to it.

Connecting to the Internet via a Cellular Data Network

Most cell providers for the iPhone also provide a wireless Internet connection that your iPhone uses automatically when a Wi-Fi connection isn’t available. (The iPhone always tries to connect an available Wi-Fi network before connecting to a cellular Internet connection.) These networks are great because the area they cover is large and connection to them is automatic. And access to these networks is typically part of your monthly account fee; ideally, you pay for unlimited data, but check the details of your account to see if you have unlimited access to the Internet through your cellular network or if there is usage-based cost.

Sometimes, the performance offered by these networks is less than ideal; in other cases, the performance is very good. The performance can also vary by your location within the network as well, so you mostly just have to try your Internet applications to see what kind of performance you have in any location.

Some providers have multiple networks, such as a low-speed network that is available widely and a higher-speed network that has a more limited coverage area. Your iPhone chooses the best connection available to you so you don’t have to think about this much. However, if you connect to a low-speed network, you might find the performance unusable for web browsing or other data-intensive tasks; in which case, you have to suffer with it or connect to a Wi-Fi network.

In the United States, the exclusive iPhone provider is AT&T; its high-speed wireless network is called 3G. In other locations, the name and speed of the networks available to you might be different.

The following information is focused on the 3G network because I happen to live in the United States. If you use another provider, you are able to access your provider’s network similarly, though your details might be different. For example, the icon on the Home screen reflects the name of your provider’s network, which might or might not be 3G.

AT&T’s 3G high-speed wireless network provides reasonably fast Internet access from many locations. (Note: The 3G network is not available everywhere, but you can usually count on it near populated areas.) To connect to the 3G network, you don’t need to do anything. If you aren’t connected to a Wi-Fi network, you haven’t turned off 3G, and your iPhone isn’t in Airplane mode, the iPhone automatically connects to the 3G network if it is available in your current location. When you are connected to the 3G network, you see the 3G indicator at the top of the iPhone’s screen.

Whenever you are connected to the 3G network, you can access the Internet for web browsing, email, and so on. While the speed won’t be quite as good as with a Wi-Fi network, it is relatively fast, certainly enough to be usable.

While the 3G network is fast, it does come with a price, which is shorter battery life. If you want to disable access to the 3G network to increase the amount of time between charges, perform the following steps.

>>>Step-by-Step

  1. Move to the Settings screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Network. The Network screen appears.
  4. Next to Enable 3G, tap ON. The status becomes OFF, and iPhone can no longer access the 3G network. It can still access the EDGE network, which is the topic of the next section.

When you leave your primary network, you no longer are able to access the wireless data networks that you primarily use. (You can still connect to and use Wi-Fi networks.) If you want to allow data roaming, move to the Network screen and tap the Data Roaming OFF button. Its status becomes ON, and when you move outside your primary network, data will come to iPhone via the available roaming network. This can be very, very expensive, so you should disable it again by tapping ON as soon as you’re done.

Generally, you should avoid allowing data roaming unless you are sure about its cost. You have no control over this and won’t really know how much it will be until you get the resulting bill, which can sometimes be shocking and painful.

When a Wi-Fi or faster network isn’t available, you are reduced to using the slower cellular data networks available to you. For AT&T, this is called the EDGE network (the original iPhone could only use Wi-Fi or the EDGE in the United States). When no better network is available (assuming iPhone isn’t in Airplane mode), iPhone connects to the slower network automatically so you can still use iPhone’s Internet functionality.

There’s often a good reason that a slower network, such as the EDGE, is the last resort; the speed is sometimes so slow that you’ll need much more patience than I have to use the web.

In the United States, the EDGE network can work okay for email and some of the other less data-intensive functions, however. And sometimes an EDGE connection is better than no connection at all. When iPhone is connected to the EDGE network, the E icon appears at the top of the screen; if you use a different provider, you see the icon for that network instead.

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