Apple’s new iOS 9 operating system has an awesome feature called Wi-Fi Assist. You’ll love it — unless you’re one of those folks that wasn’t grandfathered into an unlimited data plan. Wi-Fi Assist is a new tool that lets your iPhone use 4G cellular data to help boost a weak Wi-Fi signal.
While you’re inside your home – you’re securely connected to your internet service provider and streaming away. However – there are times when you’re outside your house or down the hall in your apartment building and your phone is still technically connected to your home network — even though you’re not receiving a signal. Ultimately, that means your streaming music cuts off, you can’t use Google Maps to navigate or that super important text just won’t send.
Before iOS 9, your options were: 1) wait until your iPhone finally recognized that you were out of range from your router or 2) go to settings and shut off Wi-Fi.
Now, when your iPhone recognizes that your Wi-Fi signal is no longer active, it automatically switches over to your cellular network to keep you connected.
The problem is, if you’re doing something super data-intensive like watching Netflix or downloading apps with a weak Wi-Fi signal, Apple’s new tool will start quickly eating away at your data plan.
Apple has enabled the new feature by default, and it hasn’t said much to tout Wi-Fi Assist. Consumers are lighting up Apple on social media about it. iPhone users are complaining about receiving surprisingly high cell phone bills after upgrading to iOS 9. There’s no way to attribute higher monthly data usage directly to Wi-Fi Assist, but there’s a chance it could be the cause of the sticker shock.
Here’s the steps to disabling this feature: Your iPhone will notify you when it has switched by graying out your Wi-Fi icon. So if you see a gray Wi-Fi notification at the top of your screen, stop downloading the Back to the Future trilogy on Amazon Prime. (by the way – it’s free for downloading / viewing for Prime users)
Each of the four national carriers offers apps that will notify you when you’re about to reach the limit of your data plan. (Trust me – my 13yr old daughter receives these notifications each and every month!)
You can get an unlimited data plan on Sprint or T-Mobile’s networks.
You can also toggle off Wi-Fi Assist by navigating to Settings > Cellular > Wi-Fi Assist.