Apple’s iOS 9.3 has a great secret feature

“This week Apple revealed iOS 9.3 and it represents a seismic change in the company’s approach to education,” Gordon Kelly writes for Forbes. “But lost among all the upgrades in iOS 9.3 was a brilliant (and much needed) new feature which Apple chose not to mention in its release notes.”

“MacRumors has spotted that if you dig into the settings of iOS 9.3 (Settings > Cellular [Mobile Data in UK] > WiFi Assist) and just below the on/off toggle you will find Apple has now added data usage figures,” Kelly writes. “Why is this so important? Because it may get Apple out of a class action lawsuit and potentially saves customers from massive carrier bills.”

Kelly writes, “Giving users easier access to track their WiFi Assist cellular data consumption (and reset the count at any point) is both very welcome and highly practical from customer satisfaction and legal standpoints.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wi-Fi Assist is a very useful feature, but the more control Apple can give users here, the better. We’d love to be able to geo-fence Wi-Fi Assist, for but one example.

Teen blames Apple’s Wi-Fi Assist feature for $2000 phone bill – January 6, 2016
Apple faces class action lawsuit over Wi-Fi Assist data usage – October 26, 2015


  1. I am surprised that more people aren’t launching class action suits at the car companies because they are getting tickets from the police when they push a little too hard on the peddle thingy on the floor. How were they supposed to know that they might get a ticket? What about all those accidents they get into, can’t they sue the car company for their mishap because the pedal thingy was too easy to push?

    When are people going to take responsibility for their own actions and read the manuals, follow the directions and use their brains?

    1. The difference is that everyone knows there is a speed limit and can see their speedometer.

      In the case of Wifi assist, most users don’t even know it exists, and up to now have had no way of knowing how much data it has used. It should be set to off by default, or get it’s own screen during the iPhone setup to explain what it does and make users deliberately choose to tun it on or off.

    1. What about people who don’t pay attention to how soon to let off the gas and put the break on? Isn’t that the car manufacturer’s fault or something? Shouldn’t the driver’s ineptitude be blamed on the car manufacturer and end up in a law suit according to the standards applied to Apple?

      1. Still a poor comparison IMO. Cars have worked that way for people since they first started to drive.

        In this case people have used their phone a certain way for years, then a new feature is introduced and they were never told / realized what is full impact was.

        To make matters worse, it was turned on by default with no indication of what it could mean or explicit instructions (more then just release notes that most people don’t read) on how or why they would want to turn it off.

        I’m a huge Apple fan here, but the potential impacts of this feature weren’t fully thought through.

        1. OK, you’re right. Everything that goes against a person’s desires, wishes or hopes is Apple’s fault and we all need to sue them to death. Kill Apple for daring to strive for excellence and ease of use. Those vile, horrible disgusting engineers. The Cheapskates who want everything for free can take over now.

          1. The suit is certainly dubious, mainly because EVERY single carrier on the planet sends plentiful warnings about reaching, hitting and then exceeding the monthly data cap. You simply can’t ignorantly rake up upwards of $2k in monthly data overages without having been cautioned many times before by your carrier.

            The problem I have with Apple is that this feature can leave most people scratching their head at the end of the month, with a question: “Where did all my data go!??” You upgrade your iOS and forget about it (after all, it is a painless and quick process); then days later, you suddenly get a warning about hitting your data cap, well before the month is out. You never got this warning before, and you always used less data than allocated, since most of your usage is on WiFi, at home or in office. As this is a feature that is quite new and unique to iOS, you don’t know about it, so you simply can’t figure out how is it possible that you burned through your data so quickly. And then the same thing happens next month, and the next… So you call your carrier support (masochistic exercise in most cases), and unless you end up talking to someone with a clue, carrier simply tells you that you’ve been using a lot more than before. And if you’re like most people, you won’t really connect the iOS update to the emergence of your problem, so you’d continue to be suspicious of your carrier billing practices (after all, they do have a reputation, mobile carriers…).

            For an ordinary iPhone user (I’m surrounded by at least 60 of them at work), this feature is as obscure as anything. They are clueless about it, and there is no way they will spontaneously and easily discover the cause of their sudden increase in data usage. This is very unfortunate and there should be something Apple could do to mitigate it. Turning the feature off by default would be the same as completely removing it, as 98% of users would never turn it on, and many of them might actually benefit significantly from it if they knew what it is and how it works. I don’t pretend to be the smartest person in the room (otherwise, I’d likely be working at Apple), but I’m sure Apple has extremely smart people who can think of a way to make this feature available and easily discoverable, without simply quietly turning it on by default and creating serious problems for people with data limits.

            This is why I like having T-Mobile. They are the only American carrier that doesn’t have data overages. If you hit your 4G data limit, your traffic is simply throttled down to 2G until the next month. You still have unlimited data, it is just at the speed of the original iPhone, and you don’t pay anything over. Meanwhile, you get plenty of warnings form T-Mobile, and once you hit your limit, you get the option of buying more 4G data (much cheaper than $2,5k).

  2. I wasn’t aware iOS was missing a feature that I have in my Galaxy S2.. O_O Wonder if the new iOS feature includes adjustable limit line bars so the user can set the point at which a warning can be shown for reaching that amount of data and a point at which cellular data is capped.

    1. I’m not sure how is that feature necessary; every single carrier on the planet sends warnings in advance as you approach, hit, and then exceed your data cap.

      I must agree, though; having a built-in functionality that would allow user to track mobile data usage and display alerts at pre-set points would certainly not hurt, and some people might prefer those over their carrier’s. There are plenty of apps (many free) that allow tracking data usage and alerting the user.

      Perhaps the main reason Apple chose NOT to include this feature in the iOS is because it would necessarily slow down the device, having to constantly run in the background and monitor and record data traffic coming in and out. Since most iPhone users are people of reasonable means, they tend to have plentiful data plans that won’t be significantly affected by the WiFi Assist feature. This is a rather broad assumption, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a factor in deciding whether to leave the feature on or off as default.

      1. As far as I can tell the monitoring of usage on my phone at least only occurs when I have either of or both Wifi and Cellular Data enabled. Tracking both is pretty informative and the ability to see what apps are using the most data as well as individually specifying a cap, wifi-only, or no syncing is pretty useful. It seems pretty lightweight for what it does.. The heaviest ‘service’ which I have turned off now is ‘location services’.. My phone went from 10hrs between charges to about 2.5 days with normal usage.

  3. No one here gives a damn what a Samsung Galaxy phone can or can’t do. If a feature isn’t on an iPhone, it doesn’t officially exist. We’re not going to switch to a cheap, knock off technology for a single feature here or there.

    1. Guessing the feature was not important in the past due to iPhones being bought with unlimited data plans. Implementors of the WiFi->Cellular feature were probably blinded to the trend of those plans disappearing. As they say necessity is the mother of invention. Besides, the data usage feature is not unique to Samsung devices and has also existed on other Android devices as well as Windows phones since version 7. The Cellular data capping feature though seems to be unique to Android. Nice to see iOS finally joining the club.

      1. The ability to track data usage and send alerts does not yet exist inside the iOS; you can of course get an app for that, as there are dozens, many free.

        On Android, tracking mobile data usage (with alerts) has been an OS feature for over four years (since late 2011). Clearly, Apple doesn’t consider this a valuable feature for iOS, otherwise, it would have been there long ago. So, no, iOS hasn’t joined this club yet, and it doesn’t seem likely it would.

        The trend among mobile carriers seems to be away from data caps and towards the unlimited data. When iPhone was launched, AT&T was the only carrier that offered unlimited data, and even that didn’t last too long. Today, almost every carrier has at least some unlimited data plans, and some of them only offer unlimited data (i.e. no data limits, no overages for exceeding them). The difference in plan rates are only in the 4G speed caps, where cheaper plans have lower limits before they start throttling speed.

        Since the global trends seems to be increasing data caps and/or eliminating them altogether, Apple is likely thinking that there is no point in incorporating a feature (data tracking and alerting) that would suck up battery and CPU cycles, if nobody will bother using it. For those few who want this feature, there are plenty of third-party apps.

        1. There are some MVNOs experimenting with ‘tiered’ data where if you use more than the tier that you are in you are simply charged that month for the next higher tier. If you use less than the tier below you, you get charged for that tier. I think is one that does that.. Another that Google is experimenting with uses a similar ‘tier’ idea but credits you for the unused portion from the previous month. Perhaps the recent trend back to unlimited data plans is being helped by developments in Voice over WiFi.

  4. Yes please! Let’s geo-fence wifi assist. I get super annoyed when I’m out in the wild and the “free” wifi from major telecom companies continually hijacks my phone. Their free wifi connections are slow, plodding, POS’s that have no business being called a connection. I can “forget this network” until the cows come home, but nope, it keeps connecting, presumably because the settings differ from specific site to site . The other thing that’s bothersome is that when I want (or need) a secure connection while online banking for example, some pissant public wifi wants connects automatically. Before you even say it, yes my settings are set to ‘ask for wifi connections”.

  5. If Apple is serious about giving customers control over wifi assist, they will position the switch in the settings near the top of the page and not at the bottom underneath the 200+ apps that I have installed.

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