Lawsuit accuses Apple's iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist of burning through $5M+ in data

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
Apple was slapped with a class-action suit on Friday, claiming that the company failed to properly warn users that the new Wi-Fi Assist feature in iOS 9 will use data from their cellular plan.




In the complaint, plaintiffs William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips allege that because of costs related to Wi-Fi Assist, the "overall amount in controversy exceeds" $5 million. Filed in a U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday, the suit was first discovered by AppleInsider.

Once users update to iOS 9, Wi-Fi Assist is turned on by default. Its goal is ensure a smooth Internet experience, switching to cellular data in the event that the user is connected to a weak Wi-Fi signal.
The lawsuit claims that Apple "downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur" from Wi-Fi Assist.
Some who don't understand how Wi-Fi Assist works, or even that it exists, have alleged that the new feature has caused them to use more cellular data than anticipated. But the new class-action suit alleges it should be Apple who should reimburse customers for any overages.

The complaint asserts that Apple did not properly explain Wi-Fi Assist on its website until only after a "flood of articles" were written about unintended cellular data use. For the plaintiffs, that addition to the website was too little, too late.

"Defendant's above corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur," the suit reads. "Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications --?all of which can use significant data. Defendant's corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage."

The suit states that the plaintiffs incurred overuse charges on both of their iPhone 5s units after upgrading to iOS 9. It did not say exactly how much those charges were, but asserts that the plaintiffs and the class were mislead about cellular data usage on their devices.

In the complaint, Apple is accused of violating California's Unfair Competition Law, the state's False Advertising Law, and of negligent misrepresentation.

To shut off Wi-Fi Assist, iOS 9 users must open the Settings app and choose Cellular, then scroll 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 166
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Where else would ANYONE expect data to be transmitted when "assisting" WiFi?
  • Reply 2 of 166
    I don't like class action suits but sadly I agree they have a point. This should have been off as a default with a warning pop-up when turning it on.
  • Reply 3 of 166
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,506member
    Wifi assist is good feature but not for most family plan with limited data and kids on board. Yes, you can turn-off in settings but it should have been something hidden, less error-prone, less something like OFF by default and remind you as you move from WiFi to WiFi assist cellular Data usage that people don't use without knowing true Data usage impact and intention of using the feature like those with limited Data..
    That said, this law suit is f* bull crap as just enough opinions one or other way will persuade Apple to pay attention and act on it. I don;t support and against people just go and file law suit for such small thing.
  • Reply 4 of 166
    What a crock of absolute BS. How often are these people on wifi network so poor that it forces the phone onto cellular data instead? Honestly. I'd compare their bills and usage from before the new feature. Lastly, I have fully unlimited dada with T Mobile... It's not Apple's fault they don't.
  • Reply 5 of 166
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,019member
    RTFM...didn't these people forget? Use the app named Tips to learn the new OS every time and you will be okay
  • Reply 6 of 166
    5M for over the data limit?
    Where do they live? Mars?
  • Reply 7 of 166
    Thanks a lot Obama
  • Reply 8 of 166
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,227member
    That thing is a trap. I turn it off as soon has I learn about it. Should had been off by default
  • Reply 9 of 166
    Ridiculous and frivolous.
  • Reply 10 of 166



    I could not agree more... If wifi is not working properly then I would like to know before using cell data.  Apple made a mistake turning this feature on by default.  I have been telling anyone who is not on unlimited plan to turn it off.

  • Reply 11 of 166
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,116member

    Gotta blame Apple here. Companies do this kind of crap all the time by making something opt-out instead of opt-in. They should have turned the feature off by default and allowed the user to activate by choice. No matter how you look at it people are incredibly stupid and would have been upset either way. And I can see the data usage argument easily if a user has crappy Wi-Fi in parts of their home and doesn’t realize they are using cellular data watching that movie. The same thing goes for the Apple Music trial period. Instead of billing subscribers if they don’t opt-out of renewal Apple should have made opt-in the requirement. If you want to keep Apple Music then you have to DO something to keep it. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a similar lawsuit coming from Apple Music users who got billed but didn’t want to renew. And Apple made it incredibly unclear what a user had to do to NOT renew.

     

    Apple is certainly not the only company doing this sort of thing. They all do it from time to time.

  • Reply 12 of 166
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by herbapou View Post



    That thing is a trap. I turn it off as soon has I learn about it. Should had been off by default



    The other issue is that to find the setting, people have to scroll down a very long list, possibly hundreds of apps. (Don't get me started on the fact that the iPhone has been out for 8 years and we still don't have draggable scrollbars for scrolling through very long lists).  Would it have hurt Apple to put the setting at the *top* of the list so people would see it right away?  Now the question is whether the setting was put at the very bottom of the list because Apple engineers failed to consider how many apps people could install, or was it done on purpose to make the setting more difficult to find?  If this issue occurred on Android would people be as quick to defend Google/Samsung?

  • Reply 13 of 166
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BeltsBear View Post



    I don't like class action suits but sadly I agree they have a point. This should have been off as a default with a warning pop-up when turning it on.

     

    I don't like the class action suit since it is totally disingenuous. If Apple wronged someone then they should be sued. When they go straight for creating a class you know it is just the attorneys trying to get money. What I do want to see is their bill for the overage. How much can it really be? And they are undoubtably suing for way more than this has cost them.

  • Reply 14 of 166
    I totally agree with this suit. I think the class action should be considerably more. This feature automatically turned on AND the recent non-stop background usage from apps like FB and Yahoo, translate into some pretty horrible data and battery usage. Not to mention the overall pain in the arse of diagnosing these things. I look forward to my $5 iTunes card in the near future.
  • Reply 15 of 166
    pigybank wrote: »
    What a crock of absolute BS. How often are these people on wifi network so poor that it forces the phone onto cellular data instead? Honestly. I'd compare their bills and usage from before the new feature. Lastly, I have fully unlimited dada with T Mobile... It's not Apple's fault they don't.

    Actually, their wifi more than likely acts up extremely often. I pay for over 100mbps and have the newest comcast router. It shows extremely high wifi speeds in tests, but across all my apple devices including my macbook ipad and iphone, there seems to be a lot of problems, freeze up on data loading and very slow loading on data. Even a mere google search has often caused me unusual disconnect or long wait times. I dont know much about how data and speed and all that, but im questioning the quality of uninterrupted data and wifi people get from providers like comcast.

    The thing is, comcast knows its customers cant expect perfection and alwasy has an excuse. But apple is an industry giant and should be very well aware of internet and data connectivity issues. Hence the reason they are providing reaolutions.

    But apple is growingly forcing features, content, apps, and now settings on consumers without their say. Tons of people have complained about apples integrated apps that many find inadequte or pointless. Most iphone users did not purchase an apple watch but apple still forces that app on consumer iphones. Apple went out of its way to automatically switch on this feature without regards or warning to the consumer. Apple wants these things to be active so that it appears that apples devices and software always run and connect better, so in the end, they benefit.
  • Reply 16 of 166
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,823member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mehran View Post

     

    I could not agree more... If wifi is not working properly then I would like to know before using cell data.  Apple made a mistake turning this feature on by default.  I have been telling anyone who is not on unlimited plan to turn it off.


    Ditto! Apple turned it on by default to provide users with a smoother experience--and maybe to insert revenue-generating ads and track users more reliably--but that's not a good enough reason to put people at risk of overages without their consent.

  • Reply 17 of 166
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    tommy0guns wrote: »
    I totally agree with this suit. I think the class action should be considerably more. This feature automatically turned on AND the recent non-stop background usage from apps like FB and Yahoo, translate into some pretty horrible data and battery usage. Not to mention the overall pain in the arse of diagnosing these things. I look forward to my $5 iTunes card in the near future.

    So Apple should be sued because of Facebook's background activity?
  • Reply 18 of 166
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    cpsro wrote: »
    Ditto! Apple turned it on by default to provide users with a smoother experience--and maybe to insert revenue-generating ads and track users more reliably--but that's not a good enough reason to put people at risk of overages without their consent.

    Can you explain what you mean here?

    "and maybe to insert revenue-generating ads and track users more reliably"
  • Reply 19 of 166
    rogifan wrote: »
    So Apple should be sued because of Facebook's background activity?

    It's not just FB. Apple changed something 9.0 that made apps from 8.x act weird and use background services even when opted out of. So yeah, it's on Apple.
  • Reply 20 of 166
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,255member

    I don't see how Apple is at fault here. Users are responsible for cellular data, not Apple. Is it that hard to not see the Wifi symbol on your phone to know if you're on a wifi network or not? People need to take responsibility of knowing how to use features on the products they buy. Apple has documentation online for all the iOS 9 features. Why should Apple be at fault for stupid people? I'm just sick of these dumb lawsuits that put the blame on someone else, not the stupidity of the user. This lawsuit is just like those stupid lawsuits against Apple where children charged thousands of dollars on the App Store. 

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