Apple is being sued over a new feature in its iOS 9 mobile operating system that allows iPhone devices to automatically switch to a cellular connection when the Wi-Fi signal is spotty or nonexistent. That feature is Wi-Fi Assist, which was introduced alongside the rollout of iOS 9, the latest version of the iPhone maker’s mobile OS, in mid-September of this year.
About a month ago, several iOS users complained that after having updated their iPhone and iPad devices to iOS 9, they often found themselves having large data bills. The Wi-Fi Assist feature is activated by default in iOS 9 without the mobile users knowing it, and apparently, the feature allows the users’ iPhones to connect to a cellular data connection, racking up data charges as a result.
As first reported by AppleInsider, a couple filed a lawsuit last Friday in the United States District Court in San Jose in the state of California. William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips who hail from Edgewater in Florida stated that because they did not have prior knowledge of the full capabilities of the Wi-Fi Assist feature, they feel that Apple should be responsible for footing their unusually large data bill, plus the bills of other users who have had to deal with the same experience. The couple are seeking class action status for their legal complaint (the entire lawsuit can be read here), and their filing contends that the overuse charges top $5 million for every iOS user out there affected by the feature.
The Wi-Fi Assist feature was designed with noble intentions, and that is to allow iOS users to switch smoothly between cellular to Wi-Fi connections without so much as a hassle. But in an ironic twist of fate, the feature has become the problem, especially for users who are availing of low usage data plans, who really can not afford to have their data allowances used up without them actually using them.
Some time after the initial users complaints found their way on the interwebs, Apple was clever enough to address the issue, publishing an updated online guide for the Wi-Fi Assist feature a few weeks ago in October. For those who are suing, however, they believe that the damage has already been done, and Apple’s online guide was a little too late to make any difference.
For the couple, they only found out about the problem when it hit social media. They further added that video and music streaming eats up considerable amounts of data and that Apple’s online guide was misleading in the sense that it did not provide sufficient basis for saying that on average, users would not be expecting any significant increase in cellular usage.
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