six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Dan Moren

Apple details Wi-Fi Assist feature

Some folks have been befuddled and bemused by the Wi-Fi Assist feature in iOS 9. Apple’s posted a support doc outlining exactly what it’s supposed to do:

With Wi-Fi Assist, you can stay connected to the Internet even if you have a poor Wi-Fi connection. 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. You can use Wi-Fi Assist with most apps like Safari, Apple Music, Mail, Maps, and more.

On the face of it, this seems like Apple being a bit blasé about people’s cellular data, as Jason and Myke discussed on this week’s Upgrade. However, what I found more illuminating are Apple’s list of caveats about Wi-Fi Assist:

  • Wi-Fi Assist will not automatically switch to cellular if you’re data roaming.
  • Wi-Fi Assist only works when you have apps running in the foreground and doesn’t activate with background downloading of content.
  • Wi-Fi Assist doesn’t activate with some third-party apps that stream audio or video, or download attachments, like an email app, as they might use large amounts of data.

So, yes, it’s still possible for Wi-Fi Assist to chew through your data, but it seems like Apple’s identified the key spots where that might really be dangerous and preemptively moved to address them.