Monthly Archives: October 2015
Apple is facing a lawsuit over a new software feature that lets iPhones switch to cellular data when the Wi-Fi signal is weak.
Wi-Fi Assist has provoked complaints from customers since Apple introduced the feature in mid-September with the latest version of its iOS software for iPhones and iPads. Many have complained that Wi-Fi Assist is switched on by default in iOS 9 without them knowing it, causing them to run up large data bills while they think their iPhones are relying on Wi-Fi.
A couple who has been on the receiving end of such a bill on Friday filed a complaint, first spotted by AppleInsider, in US District Court in San Jose, California. William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips, both of Edgewater, Florida, say that because they didn’t know about the feature, Apple should be responsible for picking up their bill, as well as the bill of any others like them. The plaintiffs are seeking class action status for their lawsuit. Their filing contends that the overuse charges top $5 million for everyone affected.
Wi-Fi Assist lets iPhones automatically switch to using data when Wi-Fi signal drops. It was designed to give iPhone users the smoothest and most consistent experience possible when using the Internet. Some Apple customers are pleased that Wi-Fi Assist allows them to stay online even when their Wi-Fi signal drops. Others, especially those with low-usage data plans, have complained about unexpected charges on their phone bill.
The mixed reactions to the feature led the Cupertino, California, company to publish an online guide to Wi-Fi Assist in early October.
“Because you’ll stay connected to the Internet over cellular when you have a poor Wi-Fi connection, you might use more cellular data,” it explained. “For most users, this should only be a small percentage higher than previous usage.”
For the plaintiffs, though, the explanation is too little, too late. The lawsuit claims that the couple only found out about the potential for extra charges when articles and tweets started appearing about Wi-Fi Assist. They also say that video and music streaming consumes high quantities of data and that Apple’s “corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.”
The lawsuit accuses Apple of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law and its False Advertising Law, as well as of negligent misrepresentation. Despite rival smartphone manufacturers, including Samsung, LG and HTC, offering similar features on their own devices, only Apple is on the receiving end of a legal complaint.
I’m always happy when one of my favorite FREE apps gets a major update. Even though I have built in navigation in my car, I always use and actually prefer Waze when I travel. I don’t worry about renting a car with a GPS to get around in an unfamiliar city or state – I simply plug in my iPhone, fire up Waze and type in my destination. Long gone are the detailed state highway maps and TripTik’s of my youth.
Waze, the navigation app that uses crowdsourced data to warn drivers about incidents on the road has just completed its biggest update since being acquired by Google over 2 years ago.
Yesterday, Waze launched a major update for its popular turn-by-turn navigation app. The entire user interface has been revamped for “higher visibility and clarity,” while still retaining the colorful, almost cartoonish appearance that has become its signature. It’s still bold and bright, but is noticeably less cluttered than before. Version 4.0 also adds a new ETA panel that puts traffic reports, alternate routes, and other useful options just one tap away.
Waze will also now give you a heads up about certain accidents before you even get in the car. The “smart calendar” feature will alert users when road incidents are likely to impact the day’s schedule, giving you the chance to leave earlier and minimize delays.
And last, Waze claims to have made significant improvements to battery consumption; the app will now use less of your phone’s charge to get you from place to place. Most people probably have their phones plugged in when driving around, so this is one change that may go unnoticed by many of Waze’s users.
And there are still a lot of Wazers out there, even after Google acquired the app and rolled almost all of its best functionality into Google Maps. Maybe it’s the social element of the app (sharing your ETA with friends, etc.) or the perception that Waze’s traffic alerts are more timely than those in Maps. Either way, it’s good to see a major update that’s a bit more substantial than simply adding yet another celebrity voice. Waze remains a free download, and the latest version is available on iOS now and will hit Android very soon.
I’m always the first to tell people to update their technology devices whenever the manufacturer releases a new update. In many cases the updates include new security fixes as well as new “features” available for the device.
If you’ve noticed that your data usage has skyrocketed since installing iOS 9 then this may be caused by a new feature on your iPhone called Wi-Fi assist. For some of us, Wi-Fi Assist may be more of a bug rather than a feature.
Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches your iPhone to use your cellular data plan if you happen to be in a spot where Wi-Fi coverage is poor. This sounds great in theory, but if you’re not on an unlimited data plan then all this extra access on your metered data plan could result in a nasty shock when you get your next bill.
Compensating for poor Wi-Fi when you’re out and about is one thing, but with this setting you could be burning through your data allowance when sitting at home or in your office.
You can find the switch to turn off this feature under Settings > Cellular and then scroll to the bottom of the (very long) page till you see the Wi-Fi assist entry
Note that the default for this “feature” is on.
This could be a useful feature, and it’s a shame that the toggle for it is buried at the bottom on an obscure page under Settings that most people will never venture into, because it’s one of those things that would be nice to be able to turn on if the need arose.
You can keep an eye on your usage by periodically using the Reset Statistics feature, which you can find just below the Wi-Fi Assist toggle detailed above. I do this on a regular basis since I subscribe to a limited data plan that’s shared with other users. If you’re on a limited plan then doing this monthly could help you keep an eye on your data usage as well.
A few days ago Apple released the iOS 9.0.2 update to fix this and a number of other issues – If you’ve already upgraded to iOS 9 then it’s time to install the latest patch or at the very least, change the Wi-Fi Assist settings before your next billing period rolls around.