I love my HTC Incredible Android phone. I’ve had it for several months now and I continue to find new and cool ways to use it. Last fall, for example, I was looking for a way to connect my laptop to the internet while visiting my parents in rural Minnesota (they don’t have wifi in their home). I discovered PdaNet, an Android app that allows you to use your phone to connect your PC to the internet–for free. Of course, this is the same kind of functionality for which Verizon and other carriers want to charge you $20 a month–waaaay more than I’d pay for it, considering I’d only use the functionality once every few months. So PdaNet was a great solution for me.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, at least as far as the wireless carriers are concerned. PdaNet has since disappeared from the Android Market (at least for Verizon customers), and stories are appearing now about carriers pressuring users of tethering apps to pay the monthly fee for the carrier services. Coincidentally, LifeHacker recently carried a story about an update to PdaNet that includes the ability to hide your tethering usage. Of course, if PdaNet no longer appears in the Android Market, you can’t get the update, right?

Well, not so fast. The PC installer for PdaNet (there are two parts–one for the PC and one for the phone) will actually update your phone with the correct version of the Android app! The beauty of this is that even if your carrier decides to delete PdaNet from your phone, you can readily reinstall it by reinstalling the corresponding PC app. No need to try to track down the .apk file and install it manually. It’s also worth noting that you don’t need to root your phone in order to use PdaNet (although you do have to enable USB debugging, which is easy to do).

The full version of PdaNet is currently priced at $15.95 and works like a charm. Updates are free for life, too, apparently. I don’t know how well it masks the tethering usage, but I guess I’ll find out eventually.

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