Apple Attempts to Ease Concerns Over Wi-Fi Assist Data Usage

iPhone-6s-ColorsOne of the less talked about new features introduced in iOS 9 last month is called "Wi-Fi Assist," which automatically switches a user's iPhone to a cellular data connection when the local Wi-Fi isn't reliable.

Many iPhone users have taken to Reddit and the MacRumors Forums to warn others about the possibility of an increased monthly data plan due to the new feature, but now Apple is getting out in front of the issue and attempting to ease the qualms of its customers with a new support document centering on the issue (via Six Colors).

According to Apple, when a user sees the switch from Wi-Fi to cellular data while browsing an internet page in Safari, for example, they should only see a "small percentage" hike in data usage. The company also detailed which apps support the feature -- Apple Music, Mail, Maps, Safari, etc -- and still gave those concerned a step-by-step process to turn off Wi-Fi Assist. It ended the new support doc with a bullet list of interesting tidbits about the feature.
-Wi-Fi Assist will not automatically switch to cellular if you're data roaming.
-Wi-Fi Assist only works when you have apps running in the foreground and doesn't activate with background downloading of content.
-Wi-Fi Assist doesn’t activate with some third-party apps that stream audio or video, or download attachments, like an email app, as they might use large amounts of data.
Wi-Fi Assist is supported on any device that runs iOS 9 or later, excluding iPhone 4s, iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation), and iPad mini (1st generation). If the support document doesn't entirely ease your concerns, go to Settings > Cellular, and scroll down to underneath the full list of apps that use cellular data to find Wi-Fi Assist's on/off toggle.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tag: Wi-Fi Assist
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Caution)


Top Rated Comments

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9 months ago
The "concern" is that the default is set to use wifi assist. And unless you know about it/are looking for the support doc, you may not know that it's on. And will use cellular data when you might not want to.
Rating: 16 Votes
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9 months ago
I don't understand what's the big deal with this. If you don't want to use your phone data, then disable it all together, but of course if your mobile data is better than wi-fi, you should use it to improve your experience. In fact, before this feature existed I just disabled Wi-fi all together (I still do) when I went to the city because trying to login to those 'free' hotspots from cafes is a nightmare, never mind the speed they offer.
Rating: 15 Votes
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9 months ago

If you don't like it, just turn it off. People will whine about anything these days.


That works for those that know about it - understand it. But people don't know what they don't know.
Rating: 13 Votes
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9 months ago
If you don't like it, just turn it off. People will whine about anything these days.
Rating: 11 Votes
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9 months ago
"Just turn it off" is easy to say when you know the feature exists.

If you don't, it's pretty unlikely that you'd find out just by messing around in Settings. It's at the very bottom of a very long list of apps after all, where you wouldn't expect to find additional settings.

I've had a few non-techies around me talk to me of this feature. None of them had heard about it through iOS, they knew because of mainstream media (TV, radio, journals, non-tech websites) warning people against it.

I think Apple should at the very least give that toggle more visibility, and consider making the feature opt-in rather than opt-out.
Rating: 10 Votes
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9 months ago

It was in the release noted. If people can't read that's there issue


So you think that everyone with an iPhone reads up on tech news? Seriously?
Rating: 7 Votes
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9 months ago
Why not just have a pop up on the phone when it switches over to data, with an explanation of how to turn the feature off, so that users know it's happening and can stop it if they don't want it?

I get the usefulness of it, especially for people with large data plans, but some of us don't have that luxury. In Canada unlimited data is beyond ridiculously expensive so most people have 1GB or less and would t want this feature on (at least not all the time) but they don't know about it.

A simple pop up, similar to the low battery warning, would suffice if you ask me. Then people know when it's happening and can decide if they want it to or not.
Rating: 5 Votes
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9 months ago

I don't even know why this is a big deal. From my experience the phone still hangs onto a weak wifi signal too long and I end up having to just turn off wifi to force LTE so that my stuff actually loads.


A lot of people were not aware this was added to iOS. For those on a very restrictive mobile data plan, it potentially is a big deal for them and a very expensive one when the next bills roll in.

I think the majority of customers will have heavily capped data plans and therefore I think realistically it would be better if the option defaulted off. But I can understand why Apple doesn't want a feature they regard as being truly innovative and useful turned off by most customers.

Also in my experience with the feature, wifi dropping one bar was enough to trigger wifi assist to kick in. Interesting that it varies dramatically for different customers.
Rating: 5 Votes
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9 months ago

Not all of us have unlimited data plans. If I go over my 5gb data limit it costs me $10 AUD per gb. So yeah this should be off by default


It could easily be a pop up during setting up the phone asking if you want to turn it on with an explanation of what it is.
Rating: 5 Votes
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9 months ago
A logical approach, since the iPhone already tracks mobile data usage, would be to allow users to enter in data limit and bill start date information, the the iPhone can track when data is being used too much and will go over the defined monthly limit...
Rating: 4 Votes
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