personal hotspot iconThis article explains what Instant Hotspot is and how you can make the most of it using your Apple devices. If you like, click the links below to jump to the sections that most interest you.

What is Instant Hotspot?

In iOS and iPadOS, Instant Hotspot refers to Apple's long-standing Personal Hotspot feature that lets you share the data connection on your iPhone or cellular iPad with other Apple devices.

Apple calls it Instant Hotspot to highlight the fact that your hotspot is always on and ready to provide internet access to any other devices nearby that are signed into your iCloud account, without them requiring a password to connect.

How is it Different From Personal Hotspot?

Instant Hotspot uses Apple's Continuity framework to connect other devices to your hotspot, so that it stays connected in the absence of a viable Wi-Fi connection, even if the ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ hosting the hotspot goes to sleep. That means any incoming messages and push notifications will still arrive on the connected device(s).

In previous versions of iOS, you could only connect to an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ personal hotspot manually, and you had to know your hotspot password, but that's no longer the case.

settings

What You Need to Use Instant Hotspot

Instant Hotspot is an extension of Apple's platform-wide Continuity framework. Therefore, in order for Instant Hotspot to work, your devices need to fulfill the following requirements.

  • Your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ (Wi-Fi + Cellular) has an activated carrier plan that provides Personal Hotspot service.
  • Each device meets Apple's Continuity requirements.
  • Each device is signed in to ‌iCloud‌ with the same Apple ID.
  • Each device has Bluetooth turned on.
  • Each device has Wi-Fi turned on.

How to Connect Your Mac to an Instant Hotspot

To connect your Mac to your Personal Hotspot, click the Wi-Fi status menu in the menu bar and choose the name of your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌.

personal hotspot mac
The Wi-Fi status icon in the menu bar will change to the hotspot icon (it looks like a chain link) to indicate that you've successfully connected.

How to Connect Other iOS Devices to Instant Hotspot

To connect an iPod touch or another ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ to your Instant Hotspot, tap through to Settings -> Wi-Fi on the device in question, then tap the name of the ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ hosting your hotspot.

ipad personal hotspot connection
Note the Auto-Join Hotspot setting located at the bottom of the Wi-Fi screen in Settings. This allows the connecting device to automatically discover nearby personal hotspots when no Wi-Fi network is available. Tapping this option lets you set it to Automatic, Ask to Join, or Never.

How to Let Others Use Your Instant Hotspot

On the Personal Hotspot settings screen, there's a switch that you can turn on to Allow Others to Join.

settings
This makes your hotspot appear to other devices that are not signed into your ‌iCloud‌ account, but only when you're in the Personal Hotspot settings screen of if you've made it discoverable via Control Center.

Other devices can be connected via Bluetooth or plugged in via USB. However, the user of the device must enter the hotspot password you created, just like they would need to in order to connect to a typical Wi-Fi network.

How to Enable Hotspot Family Sharing

You can also set up your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ hotspot so that family members can automatically connect to it whenever an internet connection isn't available. This setting only works with Apple's Family Sharing feature, so make sure you've set that up first.

Once that's done, follow the steps below to start sharing your Instant Hotspot with your Family group.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your ‌iPhone‌.
  2. Tap Personal Hotspot.
  3. Tap Family Sharing.
    personal hotspot family sharing

  4. Toggle the Family Sharing switch to the ON position.
  5. Tap a family member to Ask for Approval.

Once the family member accepts your request, their device will automatically connect to your iOS device's hotspot when required.

How to Disable Instant Hotspot on iPhone and iPad

With the release of iOS 13.1, Apple removed the on/off switch from the Personal Hotspot screen in the Settings app. As described above, the thinking behind this change is that your hotspot is always ready to provide internet access to your other devices whenever they need it. On that basis, verified devices may automatically connect to your nearby instant hotspot if there's no Wi-Fi internet connection available.

control center
If you want to prevent other devices from connecting to your ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌ hotspot, you can do so via the Control Center: Long press the Bluetooth button, and if the Personal Hotspot button is green on the next screen, tap it to make your hotspot Not Discoverable.

Popular Stories

airpodsinear 1

AirPods Save Woman's Life With Feature Everyone Should Know

Friday January 21, 2022 2:13 am PST by
Apple's AirPods have been credited with saving a woman's life after a potentially fatal fall, People reports. When a 60-year-old florist in New Jersey tripped and hit her head in her studio, she lost consciousness and awoke heavily bleeding. With nobody around to call for help, she realized she had her AirPods in, and used a "Hey Siri" command to call 911. An operator was able to stay on the ...
iphone 13 earpods

Apple to Stop Including EarPods With Every iPhone Sold in France From Next Week

Friday January 21, 2022 3:21 am PST by
Apple will no longer include EarPods with every iPhone sold in France, starting on January 24, according to a notice posted by a French carrier (via iGeneration). Apple was previously required to include EarPods in the box with the iPhone due to a French law that required every smartphone sold in the country to come with a "handsfree kit," but the law has now been changed in favor of reducing the ...
peloton tv workout cardio

Apple Floated as Potential Buyer of Peloton

Friday January 21, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Following months of bleak news about Peloton's "precarious state," including the revelation that it has halted production of its bikes and treadmills, Apple is being floated as a potential buyer of Peloton's troubled fitness business. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Peloton will temporarily stop production of its connected fitness products due to a "significant reduction" in consumer demand, a ...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
Spring 2022 Apple Products Feature

New iPad Air, Macs, and iPhone SE With 5G Likely to Be Announced at Apple Event This Spring

Thursday January 20, 2022 8:32 am PST by
Earlier this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman tweeted that Apple "will be holding a spring event" to announce a new iPhone SE and other hardware. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said the event is likely to occur in March or April. Gurman did not elaborate on what "other hardware" will be announced at Apple's purported spring event, but rumors suggest at least four products are...
Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Apple Watch Charging Bug Fixed in watchOS 8.4 Release Candidate

Thursday January 20, 2022 4:01 pm PST by
The watchOS 8.4 release candidate that was seeded to developers and beta testers this morning addresses an ongoing bug that could cause some Apple Watch chargers not to work properly with the Apple Watch. Back in December, we reported on a growing number of charging issues that Apple Watch Series 7 owners were facing. Since watchOS 8.3, there have been a number of complaints about...
safari icon blue banner

macOS Monterey 12.2 and iOS 15.3 Release Candidates Fix Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Thursday January 20, 2022 1:30 pm PST by
The macOS Monterey 12.2 and iOS 15.3 release candidates that came out today appear to address a Safari bug that could cause your recent browsing history and details about your identity to be leaked to malicious entities. As shared last week by browser fingerprinting service FingerprintJS, there is an issue with the WebKit implementation of the IndexedDB JavaScript API. Any website that uses...
apple college discounts

Apple Walks Back UNiDAYS Verification Requirement for U.S. Education Store

Friday January 21, 2022 12:43 pm PST by
Earlier this week, Apple began requiring that customers taking advantage of educational discounts in the United States verify their status as a teacher, student, or school staff member through UNiDAYS. The requirement was a major change as Apple had never asked customers to go through a verification process in the United States before, and now, just three days after verification was added,...