Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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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.

—Linked by Dan Moren

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