Apple's 'Wi-Fi Plus Cellular' option in iOS 6 to keep apps syncing when WiFi networks choke

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
If you've ever jumped onto a WiFi hotspot from your iPhone to grab a faster connection only to see it bog down and grind to a halt moments later, Apple feels your pain.

A new feature that appears to be making its way to iOS 6 this fall aims to automatically detect these hiccups and toggle your iPhone back to cellular data until the WiFi network clears up. This way, some of your most important data and applications will keep on syncing.

Dubbed 'Wi-Fi Plus Cellular,' the feature is listed under General->Cellular systems setting pane in the latest beta of iOS 6. If it makes it into the final release of the software, you'll be able to tell your iPhone to automatically revert back to cellular data to keep your iCloud Documents, iTunes purchases, Passbook and Reading Lists up to date.

In much the same way, it will also attempt to keep your FaceTime video conferences from dropping on an iPhone 4S or greater (the FaceTime toggle does not show up on iPhone 4 or earlier). It's not yet clear, however, how individual carriers will handle cellular data use for FaceTime, as an earlier finding from within the iOS 6 betas indicated that AT&T may charge for the capability, which is currently limited to WiFi in iOS 5.





Either way, the potential new feature underscores Apple's drive to equip customers with the best possible user experience where things 'just work.' It's joined by other additions in the latest iOS 6 beta that are similarly designed to keep users connected, including a Bluetooth Sharing feature and an option to be notified when someone subscribed to one of your shared calendars makes an update.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    rhyderhyde Posts: 294member


    Wait, they charge me for the data and then charge me extra!


    Tethering is one thing (which I'll go along with), but this seems really absurd.

  • Reply 2 of 45
    ktappektappe Posts: 759member


    OMG, I try not to fanboi too much but this is great. I cannot count how many times I've had to manually turn off WiFi to get off of a non-communicating network. Either they're out of leases, or require extra authentication, or are full, or some such. This feature alone will make me upgrade to iOS6 the day it comes out, which is saying something as I'm usually a slow adopter (I'm still on iOS5, not 5.1.)

  • Reply 3 of 45
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    This is great but it's too bad we couldn't have had this back when data plans were unlimited.


    PS: I tether my MBP to my iPad but I find that it's a huge PITA. Once my MBP loses the connection the Personal Hotspot option doesn't show up in WiFI any longer. I have to go into iPad Settings, go to Personal Hotspot, toggle it off and on, and then wait for it to appear back in my WiFi. Is there a way to make this connection persistent and automatic even after my MBP goes to sleep and wakes up?

    rhyde wrote: »
    Wait, they charge me for the data and then charge me extra!
    Tethering is one thing (which I'll go along with), but this seems really absurd.

    Did you post to the right thread?
  • Reply 4 of 45

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ktappe View Post


    OMG, I try not to fanboi too much but this is great. I cannot count how many times I've had to manually turn off WiFi to get off of a non-communicating network. Either they're out of leases, or require extra authentication, or are full, or some such. This feature alone will make me upgrade to iOS6 the day it comes out, which is saying something as I'm usually a slow adopter (I'm still on iOS5, not 5.1.)



    +1 !!!


    Even so I sometimes could log via VPN client in to an existing WiFi network, it's usually really annoying to always enter username and password. So I just switch off WiFi etc.


     


    So finally this struggle will be solved! Thank's for that Apple!

  • Reply 5 of 45

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rhyde View Post


    Wait, they charge me for the data and then charge me extra!


    Tethering is one thing (which I'll go along with), but this seems really absurd.



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    Did you post to the right thread?


     


    Haven't seen a thread for that post recently in this forum.


     


    Maybe he jumped to the wrong forum??

  • Reply 6 of 45

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ktappe View Post


    OMG, I try not to fanboi too much but this is great. I cannot count how many times I've had to manually turn off WiFi to get off of a non-communicating network. Either they're out of leases, or require extra authentication, or are full, or some such. This feature alone will make me upgrade to iOS6 the day it comes out, which is saying something as I'm usually a slow adopter (I'm still on iOS5, not 5.1.)



     


    The was the No. 1 thing I was hoping to get from iOS 6.  Every time I leave my office, my wifi keeps looking for my office network for so long that I have to manually turn off wifi to get a cellular signal.

  • Reply 7 of 45


    I definitely emailed Apple about this idea. Can't tell you how many times I've been sitting out in my driveway when my iPhone just won't let go of the uselessly weak Wi-Fi signal from my house. Siri doesn't like that one bit.


     


    Thank Jebus somebody else had this problem too.


     
  • Reply 8 of 45
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    I'm curious- does this connect to the fastest network seemlessly? Or does it only connect to cellular if wifi bogs down completely (basically freezes)?

    Because if it's the latter- awesome. If its the former- most public wifi won't be as fast as LTE I wouldn't think... So great for 4S and earlier- but it might be an unneeded feature for the new iPhone.
  • Reply 9 of 45


    He's talking about the double charge in FaceTime, actually the article talks about ATT and the probable charge for the FT use.

  • Reply 10 of 45


    Hi, I'm JFernandezPR, I'm a FANBOY and I Approve this message...

  • Reply 11 of 45


    This could be very awesome IF IMPLEMENTED WELL.


     


    Sadly Apple tends to hork things up sometimes. For example, there's NO WAY to enable auto-login on a WEP/WPA protected Wifi network. This means every time I get to work I have to open stupid Safari and sign in.




    If they implement this feature well, I'd be able to still get iMessages and such at work when I don't log in.

     

  • Reply 12 of 45
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member


    I’ve wanted this forever!


     


    Sometimes in a coffee shop or public WiFi, the Internet will just bog down (not disconnect) for 30-60 seconds. It comes back, and the outage is not quite worth manually toggling WiFi off and then remembering to try it back on again a minute later. Sometimes I just turn WiFi off and leave it off, or Forget that network permanently—but it would be nice to use it automatically the 95% of the time when it’s working fine! Falling back on cellular briefly—assuming it works for web, email, and ALL Internet activity (and I think it must) would be terrific.


     


    I’d also love this when I’m on the very edge of a normally-good WiFi source. Like parked near my home, walking to the corner, or going past a coffee shop without going in. Sometimes I get just a trace of WiFi—enough to connect, but dog slow. I usually walk farther on to make the connection break, but if my iPhone would break the link automatically to get faster data, I wouldn’t even have to think about it.


     


    (But hopefully it’s smart enough to NOT disconnect slow/bogged WiFi in instances where your cell connection is even worse.)

  • Reply 13 of 45


    I hope this helps all apps on the phone work more smoothly as there is transition between WiFi and Cellular.


     


    I use TuneIn Radio a lot, and typically start listening in the house as I'm getting ready to walk the dog.  I pick the local NPR station, and it plays me their standard, "this audio stream is brought to you courtesy of xyz", then starts playing the radio station.  Then, as I walk away from the house, the phone will suddenly switch over to Cellular for the data as the WiFi connection is lost, and the playback stops and plays the, "this audio stream is brought to you courtesy of xyz", message again.  The thing is, there is obviously enough data buffered to cope with the degrading WiFi signal, as I never get a loss of audio as I walk away, it just suddenly switches to cellular and reacts as if I've started a new connection entirely.


     


    The strange thing is, on the way back, so when I get back in range of my WiFi network, it doesn't happen again.


     


    Not sure if this is something changes to the OS could help, or if it's an inherent weakness of the otherwise excellent TuneIn Radio, but I'd love it if it stopped happening!

  • Reply 14 of 45


    Why can't they do this between 3G and 2G service as well (or 4G/3G/2G)? Personally, my phone says I get great 3G reception at work, but if I try to get any data, it just spins. If I manually turn off 3G, 2G kicks in and data comes and goes with no problem. I'm only a layperson on the issue, but shouldn't the phone recognize if it's not getting a reasonable connection to drop to the next network available and try again?

  • Reply 15 of 45


    This sounds great, except the article makes it seem like the cellular will kick in only for SYNCING purposes--what about normal browsing or every-day data usage? That's what everyone on here wants.

  • Reply 16 of 45
    Aw damn it... I'm AT&T customer.. I can't use FaceTime over cellular!! Have to pay extra! I'm so sick of this! MMS, tethering, hotspot, now FaceTime!!! (BLEEP) YOU, AT&T!!
  • Reply 17 of 45
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by TexDeafy View Post

    Aw damn it... I'm AT&T customer.. I can't use FaceTime over cellular!! Have to pay extra! I'm so sick of this! MMS, tethering, hotspot, now FaceTime!!! (BLEEP) YOU, AT&T!!


     


    Straight Talk would like to put its arm around your shoulder.

  • Reply 18 of 45
    ssquirrelssquirrel Posts: 1,196member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TexDeafy View Post



    Aw damn it... I'm AT&T customer.. I can't use FaceTime over cellular!! Have to pay extra! I'm so sick of this! MMS, tethering, hotspot, now FaceTime!!! (BLEEP) YOU, AT&T!!


     


    Isn't that still only MAY have to pay?

  • Reply 19 of 45
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member


    How about just remembering that I manually pressed ignore on a WiFi that I do NOT want to connect to - such as a locked WiFi that I do not have access to. 


     


    Gets annoying when sitting somewhere where you know don't want to get on the WiFi but the iOS keeps asking if you do - and annoying to have to turn WiFi on and off manually to avoid it. 


     


    Saying do not connect to an auto detected WiFi (and I don't want to turn off auto detect) should ignore that SSID for longer than the 60 seconds or whatever it is set to now - maybe even use location services to not ask to connected to WiFi again until your physical location changes by some number of feet (or meters). 


     
  • Reply 20 of 45
    wingswings Posts: 261member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zorinlynx View Post


    This could be very awesome IF IMPLEMENTED WELL.


     


    Sadly Apple tends to hork things up sometimes. For example, there's NO WAY to enable auto-login on a WEP/WPA protected Wifi network. This means every time I get to work I have to open stupid Safari and sign in.




    If they implement this feature well, I'd be able to still get iMessages and such at work when I don't log in.

     



    This article is about iPhones. Are you talking about your iPhone? If so, you're confusing me, cause once I log on to a WPA network I'm not asked again to provide name & pw. It just silently connects.

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