Apple posts iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist guide in wake of complaints about excessive data use

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
A new Apple support document about Wi-Fi Assist attempts to address complaints about the iOS 9 feature, which some user have said can cause monthly cellular data use to grow dramatically.




"Because you'll stay connected to the Internet over cellular when you have a poor Wi-Fi connection, you might use more cellular data," Apple cautions in one part of the document. "For most users, this should only be a small percentage higher than previous usage."

Wi-Fi Assist is turned on by default, and is meant to ensure a smooth Internet experience. Because it switches over to cellular whenever it decides that a Wi-Fi signal is weak and not simply absent, however, this can potentially cause people to exceed carrier data caps without realizing.

The document notes that certain limitations have been applied to the feature. It won't switch on while data roaming, for example, and only applies to foreground apps rather than background downloads.

Likewise, not all apps can take advantage. It shuts off for some unidentified third-party apps that stream audio or video, as well as some email apps, since they might download large attachments.

Apple's own apps typically do make use of the technology, including Mail, Maps, Safari, Apple Music, and others.

To shut off Wi-Fi Assist, iOS 9 users must go into the Cellular menu in the Settings app, and scroll all the way to the bottom to find the toggle button. The option is missing on some older Apple devices, including the iPhone 4S, the iPad 2, and the first-generation iPad mini.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,470member

    Based on what happens right here in AI forums anything Apple does or doesn’t do, activates or doesn’t activate by default will piss somebody off. I’d bet some good money that this predicament is discussed by Apple management every time something like this is implemented. They try to balance who will appreciate the feature versus who it will piss off. And of course the average user doesn’t dig around to find the toggle switch for such features. All some of them know is their data usage went up after they installed iOS 9 so they complain. They also complained about Wi-Fi coverage before the feature was available. As I said somebody is always going to be pissed off.

  • Reply 2 of 31
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    I think the problem for many users is that this setting is all the way at the BOTTOM of that long, long page so they don't even know it exists. Perhaps Apple should put the setting before the long, long list of applications.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Given the spotty nature of my university's WiFi I LOVE this feature, I get the best data connection possible all without my having to futz with manually turning WiFi on and off as the signal strength waxes and wanes to force reversion to LTE and back.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,947member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    I have unlimited data.  I LOVE this new feature.


    Ditto!

  • Reply 5 of 31
    " And of course the average user doesn't dig around to find the toggle switch for such features"

    The feature was OFF on my iPhone6 when I got an iOS9 update.
  • Reply 6 of 31

    Maybe this will help Apple and other app developers become a bit more judicious in their use of data.  It galls me that I must buy 10 GB of data per month just to do normal web surfing and stuff on my iPhone.  (No audio or video streaming.)

  • Reply 7 of 31
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 673member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    I have unlimited data.  I LOVE this new feature.




    ditto

  • Reply 8 of 31
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,491member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

     

    Maybe this will help Apple and other app developers become a bit more judicious in their use of data.  It galls me that I must buy 10 GB of data per month just to do normal web surfing and stuff on my iPhone.  (No audio or video streaming.)




    I do a lot of audio streaming and some video streaming and the most data I've ever used in a month is 1.6 Gig.   I've also got five email accounts coming into the phone and there's tons of junk and spam mail taking up data usage.    So you must be using some app that's consuming a lot of data.   

  • Reply 9 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Wi-Fi Assist is turned on by default....

    It wasn't. With ATT, it had to be turned ON, then I had to confirm my 911 address, and wait 30 seconds or so before it was activated. (Then of course, it stays on by default).

     

    It went through exactly the same procedure with three other phones in my family account.

  • Reply 10 of 31
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    It wasn't. With ATT, it had to be turned ON, then I had to confirm my 911 address, and wait 30 seconds or so before it was activated. (Then of course, it stays on by default).

    It went through exactly the same procedure with three other phones in my family account.

    Pretty sure you're referring to Wi-Fi calling. This article is about Wi-Fi assist, which compensates for slow Wi-Fi networks by falling back to LTE (and using data in the process). No need to verify a 911 address for that.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    It wasn't. With ATT, it had to be turned ON, then I had to confirm my 911 address, and wait 30 seconds or so before it was activated. (Then of course, it stays on by default).

     

    It went through exactly the same procedure with three other phones in my family account.




    Except that's not WiFi Assist, that's WiFi CALLING, where it's WiFi that takes the transmission responsibility when the cellular voice signal is weak. Hence the need for the 911 information which is obviously irrelevant for shifting WiFi DATA over to LTE....

     

    ETA: Slow typing... so a replicate of above's answer.

  • Reply 12 of 31
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

     

    Maybe this will help Apple and other app developers become a bit more judicious in their use of data.  It galls me that I must buy 10 GB of data per month just to do normal web surfing and stuff on my iPhone.  (No audio or video streaming.)




    Some truth in that, I cringe at what at I'd consume were I not almost always surrounded at work and at home by solid WiFi service.

  • Reply 13 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nhughes View Post



    Pretty sure you're referring to Wi-Fi calling. This article is about Wi-Fi assist, which compensates for slow Wi-Fi networks by falling back to LTE (and using data in the process). No need to verify a 911 address for that.

     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jfc1138 View Post

     

    Except that's not WiFi Assist, that's WiFi CALLING, where it's WiFi that takes the transmission responsibility when the cellular voice signal is weak. Hence the need for the 911 information which is obviously irrelevant for shifting WiFi DATA over to LTE....


    Ha. Good to know. Thanks!

     

    (It's interesting how the Settings page shown in the article -- which seems Canadian -- if slightly different from the US version.)

  • Reply 14 of 31
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,470member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

     

    Maybe this will help Apple and other app developers become a bit more judicious in their use of data.  It galls me that I must buy 10 GB of data per month just to do normal web surfing and stuff on my iPhone.  (No audio or video streaming.)




    I have no idea how you use your data but it sure sounds completely irrational. I use my iPhone daily for ‘normal’ web surfing and ‘stuff’ as well as listen to Apple Music. This past billing cycle my total data usage was less than 1GB (.8GB to be exact). If you need 10GB for ‘normal’ usage then we live on different planets.

  • Reply 15 of 31
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    I have unlimited data.  I LOVE this new feature.




    I don't. Still not gonna turn it off though.

  • Reply 16 of 31
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    I'm not surprised by this. When I first heard of this feature I turned it off immediately.

    This is the third 'connection-related' feature that I've seen Apple implement badly recently. The other two were were iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Drive.

    The services themselves are fine but utterly choke an Internet connection when active and are uploading recorded videos or large files.

    Some type of intelligent throttling should have occurred. Or Apple should have included an option to not upload videos in iCloud Photo Library.

    Was surprised by this fairly basic mistake by Apple.
  • Reply 17 of 31
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,947member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    It wasn't. With ATT, it had to be turned ON, then I had to confirm my 911 address, and wait 30 seconds or so before it was activated. (Then of course, it stays on by default).

     

    It went through exactly the same procedure with three other phones in my family account.


    I think you're confusing WiFi Assist with WiFi Calling.

  • Reply 18 of 31
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,616member
    sog35 wrote: »
    I have unlimited data.  I LOVE this new feature.
    Do you have LTE? or 3G? If I had unlimited data I would just switch wifi off. My LTE connection is a lot quicker. I get approx 30mbps down and 15 up.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,616member
    lkrupp wrote: »

    I have no idea how you use your data but it sure sounds completely irrational. I use my iPhone daily for ‘normal’ web surfing and ‘stuff’ as well as listen to Apple Music. This past billing cycle my total data usage was less than 1GB (.8GB to be exact). If you need 10GB for ‘normal’ usage then we live on different planets.
    I went with my family to a cottage where all we had was an LTE router with 4 possible simultaneous wifi connections. We were 5 adults and 3 kids, and to my amazement we hit approx 10gb per day! I have a hard time breaking 1gb per month with normal use but most of my browsing etc is done within Wifi range at home or at work. I think if you watch a bit of sports, Youtube, Netflix and listen to streaming music every day, all over LTE it would be easy to rack up 10gb per month.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTR View Post



    I'm not surprised by this. When I first heard of this feature I turned it off immediately.



    This is the third 'connection-related' feature that I've seen Apple implement badly recently. The other two were were iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Drive.



    The services themselves are fine but utterly choke an Internet connection when active and are uploading recorded videos or large files.



    Some type of intelligent throttling should have occurred. Or Apple should have included an option to not upload videos in iCloud Photo Library.



    Was surprised by this fairly basic mistake by Apple.

     

    Not sure how this a "bad thing; it should just be turned off by default.

     

    It works fine for everything but streamed video, where yes it could kill your data cap.

    You should just have the option to turn it off for video, or at least very high def video.

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