Apple is facing a $5 million lawsuit, with users claiming the company didn't properly warn customers of a feature in the iOS9 update that could leave them majorly out of pocket.
Wi-Fi Assist, which is part of the iOS9 release, is supposed to ensure that users have the strongest Internet connection possible at all times. But it does this by automatically switching to Mobile Data if the Wi-Fi signal is weak. Apple explains:
"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."
This could result in huge data charges for customers, claim William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips, who have filed the lawsuit. They argue that Apple has failed to properly warn users of this potential cost and so should reimburse them.
The Wi-Fi Assist function is turned on by default, so it's worth checking your settings to make sure you don't find yourself with a hefty data charge on your next phone bill. Go to Settings > Mobile Data and then scroll down and tap Wi-Fi Assist.
The lawsuit, first reported by AppleInsider, argues that charges could amount to $5 million and asks the court to award damages to anyone involved in the class action suit. They accuse Apple of misleading customers and cite 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."
Despite the Apple website featuring clear instructions as to how to turn the Wi-Fi Assist feature off, they claim this only happened after a "flood of articles" were written about the issue.
While Apple says on their site that the increased data usage "should only be a small percentage higher than previous usage," the lawsuit argues this isn't the case.
"Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications—all of which can use significant data. Defendant's corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage."
Apple hasn't made an official comment, and it seems unlikely they will, but if nothing else, at least we all know to turn it off now.
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