Why can’t you turn off Personal Hotspot in iOS 13?

iOS 13 isn’t just about exciting new bugs. Apple has done a lot of cleaning up, and moving things around. One big behind-the-scenes feature change is in the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot. You can no longer turn it off. Or rather, you haven’t been able to turn it off for a while now. It’s just that iOS 13 finally makes it explicit.

However, this doesn’t mean that your iPhone will constantly broadcast its hotspot status, or that it will run down your battery. In fact, this feature is now easier to understand, and more sensibly-described, than ever.

How does the Personal Hotspot work in iOS 13?

The iOS 13 hotspot is now split into two conceptual parts. The personal, iCloud-enabled part, and the old-fashioned shareable Wi-Fi network part.

The part you can’t turn off is the iCloud part. The hotspot itself isn’t always active. The difference is that you can initiate a connection from any other device at any time.

Sparse: The Personal Hotspot settings in iOS 13.
Sparse: The Personal Hotspot settings in iOS 13.
Photo: Cult of Mac

For example, if you want to get online with your iPad, and your iPhone is in the next room, or zipped away in your bag, then you can still connect to the iPhone’s hotspot. Just go to the Wi-Fi settings section on your iPad, and choose your iPhone from the list. This should work immediately, even if you’ve never used it before.

What’s more, if you use iCloud’s Family feature, you can allow anyone in your family to access the hotspot in the same way. Permissions can be fine-tuned, so you can chose which family members are allowed to connect at all, and whether or not they will have to get permissions first, or connect automatically.

Choose how and when your family members can connect.
Choose how and when your family members can connect.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Bonus: When you connect like this, your iPad will automatically enter low-data mode, which means it won’t tear through your data plan by assuming it’s on unlimited Wi-Fi.

What about Kindles, and Android users?

This new automatic hotspot setup will take care of almost all you needs. But you can still use the old dumb hotspot, turning your iPhone into a miniature Wi-Fi router which requires a passcode to join.

This works just like before. Just toggle the Allow Others to Join switch, and then input the supplied passcode to join the network. This is good for syncing your Kindle while on vacation, and for letting your cheap-ass Android-using “friends” leech your precious cellular data allowance.

Unlike the iCould-powered hotspot, this one can still be turned off manually.

Why is this so confusing?

Seriously? Come on — it’s not really that confusing, is it? Now you can use your iPhone’s data connection whenever you like, on demand, without having to touch your iPhone. This connection is initiated automatically, whenever you need it, and is off the rest of the time.

And for everything else, you can explicitly tell the iPhone to broadcast itself as a hotspot, to old-fashioned way.

IOS has more-or-less done it this way for a few years now, but the terminology was confusing. Now, it’s been cleaned up, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Apple likes to take decisions for the user, with the purpose of making things easier to use. Sometimes it goes to far, but this time I feel Apple got the balance just right.

Finally, if you ever tried to hotspot from your iPad to your iPhone in the past, and it just didn’t work, then try it again. Mine was always glitchy as hell, but now it seems to work perfectly.


This article was originally posted here