The Wi-Fi Assist feature in iOS 9 (the latest version of the iOS mobile operating system) will not gobble up all of the user’s mobile data. At least that is what Apple wants to stress to all iOS users out there who have already updated their mobile devices with the newest iOS platform. Apple debuted the Wi-Fi Assist feature with the release of iOS 9 in September of this year. The idea behind the feature is really good -- basically, it allows iOS users’ devices to switch automatically to a cellular connection if they find themselves in an area where the Wi-Fi coverage is spotty or nonexistent.
However, a few weeks ago, there were reports that that the Wi-Fi Assist feature may be consuming data off iOS users’ mobile plans without them knowing it. The feature is turned on by default in devices updated with iOS 9, and apparently, especially for people with cellular data plans, Wi-Fi Assist gobbles up data on its own while in the process of automatically switching to a cellular connection when the Wi-Fi coverage is weak. This has become a cause for worry for some users, particularly those who are availing of mobile plans that only allow a limited amount of data, like 1 gigabyte a month, for instance.
Just this week, Apple has started to put an effort in setting the record straight regarding the Wi-Fi Assist feature. Through its recently updated About Wi-Fi Assist web page, the tech giant explained that the feature will not switch to cellular data if the iOS user is data roaming, which means that people will not need to worry about additional charges if they are out of their normal coverage area.
Also, Apple stressed that the Wi-Fi Assist feature only works with mobile apps that running in the foreground, and it will not download any content from mobile apps running in the background. Lastly, the company stated that the feature does not become active with specific third party mobile apps that stream video or audio content, and it will not download any large file attachments. Users will also be able to tell if the Wi-Fi Assist feature is on via the cellular data icon in the status bar of their iOS mobile device.
Apple did say that because iOS users will remain connected to the web using a cellular network when they have bad Wi-Fi coverage, it is possible that they might consume more cellular data than the usual. But Apple noted that this should only make up a small percentage of increase compared to the normal data usage. Just to be safe, tech bloggers have recommended that it might be better to just disable the feature, especially for those who do not have unlimited data.
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