Apple being sued over iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Aggressive iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist Feature Has Apple Facing $5 Million Class Action Lawsuit.

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 found in iOS 9 has caught a few people unawares, and many have complained that they have been landed with large bills due to increased data usage. While Wi-Fi Assist is a pretty nifty feature that a few users probably don’t mind – especially those that are still on unlimited data plans – the rest of us smartphone users are on metered plans and have to keep an eye on monthly cellular data usage. “Defendant’s above corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur. 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.

Defendant’s corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage”, reads the suit that was first discovered by AppleInsider. The report further notes that “The complaint asserts that Apple did not properly explain Wi-Fi Assist on its website until only after a “flood of articles” were written about unintended cellular data use”.

Wi-Fi Assist was designed to make browsing the Internet a seamless experience, even if your Wi-Fi connection isn’t exactly as strong as it could be. 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. As Apple explains in the support documentation for Wi-Fi Assist: For example, if you’re using Safari with a poor Wi-Fi connection and a webpage doesn’t load, Wi-Fi Assist will activate and automatically switch to cellular so that the webpage continues to load.

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. 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. 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.

It’s not clear just how many people were affected by the issue or how much money iPhone users actually paid in cellphone data overages, but according to the lawsuit, “the overall amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000.” 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. Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications — all of which can use significant data.

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