Apple being sued over iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature by California-based couple

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Hit With Class Action Lawsuit for New Wi-Fi Assist Feature.

A Florida couple filed a class action lawsuit against Apple on Friday, claiming a new “Wi-Fi Assist” feature can lead users to inadvertently blow through their data plan and rack up extra charges. The Wi-Fi Assist feature arrived as part of Apple’s AAPL 3.10% new iOS 9 operating system, and is intended to help users when Wi-Fi coverage is weak by automatically switching on cell service to supplement it. They are also seeking class-action certification and claim that other customers have been “harmed” by this feature, claiming that Apple did not specifically spell out how exactly WiFi Assist works.

Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches the phone’s connection to cellular if the user is on slow or patchy WiFi, ideally ensuring quick and seamless Internet access. 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. After all, companies like Samsung have implemented similar WiFi boosts – they probably don’t want to be on the hook for your giant phone bill, even if they bear a few responsibility.

But because it’s on by default, it may silently have eaten up data allowances on phones when the owner thought they were on a WiFi connection, and therefore free to use high-bandwidth apps like Netflix. Apple added a help page explaining the feature after iOS 9 went live, but the lawsuit contends this was too little, too late — and still does not adequately warn of possible data overages. That’s right, extra fees.” The lawsuit also cites tweets like the one below to refute Apple’s alleged attempt to downplay its failure to tell consumers that Wi-Fi Assist was turned on: Now, the couple who filed the lawsuit, William and Suzanne Phillips, are asking Apple to pay at least $5 million to compensate everyone affected by the problem, and for a judge to order Apple to change the way it offers WiFi Assist. (The $5 million is a somewhat arbitrary number that plaintiffs invoke to get into federal court.

The feature, which lets your phone automatically call on your cellular data plan if the current Wi-Fi isn’t strong enough, has been a source of controversy since the new OS was released. “Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications – all of which can use significant data”, reads the suit. The lawsuit seeks class-action status to include anyone who owned a device running iOS 9, whether it was on the phone when they got it or installed as an update. The lawsuit claims the company’s failure to disclose the new WiFi boost setting was unfair and deceptive under California law, and that it amounted to negligent misrepresentation.

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. To find out if this feature is enabled on your phone, or to shut down the feature, go to Settings Cellular and then scroll to the bottom to find the toggle button. 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.

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