Apple is turning iOS into an iTunes-like mess

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple faces class action lawsuit over Wi-Fi assist data usage.

A class action suit filed Friday in federal court in San Jose, Calif. claims that Apple AAPL -2.66% failed to properly warn iOS 9 users that a new feature, called Wi-Fi Assist, automatically switches to using cellular data when a device is connected to a weak Wi-Fi signal. The complaint by William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips alleges that Apple didn’t properly explain the function until widespread media coverage of the issue. “Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications — all of which can use significant data. Controversially, the feature is enabled by default in the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 9, and it isn’t always clear when it is active (the only explicit acknowledgement is that the Wi-Fi logo in the top-right of the phone’s screen becomes greyed out). Defendant’s corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage,” read an excerpt of the complaint. The lawsuit, which was first reported by AppleInsider, claims that the overuse charges stemming from Wi-Fi Assist exceed $5 million, and it asks that the court award damages to the plaintiffs and other potential class action members.

As a result, users have reported accidentally running up large bills for mobile-data usage when they used their phones while believing they were on their home Wi-Fi. The funny part is that Apple has a penchant for including features in updates and products that breach on certain boundaries without users knowing about it and Apple has paid quite a lot for it, but still doesn’t budge. The lawsuit accuses Apple of misleading its customers and of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law as well as the state’s False Advertising Law. “[Apple] intentionally chose to have the default setting of the Wi-Fi Assist as activated while at the same time chose to omit the likelihood of data overcharges to consumers that do not have an unlimited data plan,” the lawsuit says. Now, AppleInsider reports that a California couple has launched a class-action lawsuit after they received one such overage bill, arguing that Apple should reimburse affected customers. The lawsuit also notes that Apple finally posted instructions on its website showing users how to turn off the Wi-Fi Assist’s default setting only after a “flood of articles, comments and complaints” appeared online as users noted the feature’s use of cellular data.

Samsung, HTC and LG all have equivalent features on their own phones (Samsung’s is called Smart Network Assist); none of the Android manufacturers have faced a similar lawsuit, however.

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