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I use a spare smartphone with no SIM card as a navigation tool in my car. This works fine with offline maps, but I can't use things like Waze. I also have an iPhone which I carry around with me, which does have a SIM card.

I wanted to know if there was a way to have the iPhone automatically start its Personal Hotspot tethering when it sees the other phone is in range via Bluetooth.

This would allow data access to the SIM-free smartphone only while I was in my car, which would be a perfect solution similar to what the Tasker app on Android can do. Perhaps something like the Workflow app would help?

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There's a way to do this if you're jailbroken with tweak called Activator by Ryan Petrich, and unfortunately it's the only solution because regular App Store apps aren't allowed to access settings like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Personal Hotspot (even Workflow cannot access them).

If you happen to be jailbroken, the way to do this with Activator is to go Settings > Bluetooth > On then Settings > Activator > Anywhere > Bluetooth Devices > Connected to [your Bluetooth device] and assign it to Switches > Hotspot. You might also want to assign the Disconnected from [your Bluetooth device] event to the same action, so when you connect Bluetooth, your hotspot turns on, and when you disconnect Bluetooth, your hotspot turns off. If Switches > Hotspot doesn't appear in the list of available assignments, then you'll also need to install Flipswitch by the same author.

For use on iOS 9 and 10, see Doron Gold's comment below on how to set it up.

  • This does not work because by just enabling the Hotspot switch via Activator, the iPhone does not start broadcasting its hotspot. The only way I could find to make the iPhone start broadcasting is to go into Settings --> Personal Hotspot. This is true even if you always leave the Personal Hotspot switch on. Unfortunately, this means there is no way to have non-Apple devices connect to the iPhone's Hotspot automatically. I would be happy to be proven wrong :) – Doron Gold Mar 5 '17 at 16:47
  • @DoronGold I used to use Activator and Flipswitch for enabling Personal Hotspot. Maybe it doesn't work anymore? You could try contacting Ryan Petrich and seeing if he knows about that. – Andrew Larsson Mar 6 '17 at 19:42
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    I solved it: install Activate Link. Go to Settings > Activate Link, next to Link 1 type: prefs:root=INTERNET_TETHERING. Create a bluetooth connection trigger as described in the answer above, but instead of assigning Switches > Hotspot, assign Activate Link 1. Now when you connect to your car's Bluetooth, the Personal Hotspot screen will open, and the iphone will actually broadcast its wifi. On iOS 10 the url might need to start with "App-Prefs:" (instead of "prefs:"). – Doron Gold Mar 23 '17 at 13:33
  • @DoronGold Awesome! I'll update my answer to have people look at your comment for iOS 10. – Andrew Larsson Mar 23 '17 at 18:38
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    I'm actually using my solution on iOS 9. I don't have iOS 10 installed yet. I only mentioned that on iOS 10 Apple seems to have changed the prefix of their builtin URL schemes (prefs > App-Prefs). I learned this from other comments but haven't actually tried to run anything on iOS 10 myself. As I mentioned in my first comment, your solution didn't work for me on iOS 9. Only having Activator automatically open the Personal Hotspot screen did the trick. – Doron Gold Mar 24 '17 at 9:33
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This is not possible in vanilla iOS.

EDIT: Here's a Stack Overflow question that proves that there is no API for it: link

If there is no API, unless Apple provides the functionality it can't happen. And Apple does not provide any method of doing this as far as I can tell.

  • Please add links to sources on the internet that back up this assertion, or describe steps you took to try to accomplish the same thing. One line 'answers' have a very short lifetime on AskDifferent. – IconDaemon Mar 12 '16 at 3:29

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