Apple is facing a class-action lawsuit over the Wi-Fi Assist feature introduced in its ninth major release of the iOS mobile operating system. The lawsuit claims the company failed to explain to users that the feature uses data from their cellular plan.
Filed in a US District Court, Northern District of California in San Jose on 23 October, the plaintiffs - William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips - claim they incurred overage charges on their iPhone 5s units after upgrading to iOS 9. They claim the "overall amount in controversy exceeds $5m".
The lawsuit notes the plaintiffs and others were misled by the cellular data usage on their devices. Apple is accused of violating California's Unfair Competition Law, the state's False Advertising Law as well as misrepresentation.
"Defendant's above corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur. 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," reads the suit that was first discovered by AppleInsider.
The complaint further alleges that Apple detailed the features of Wi-Fi Assist only after a "flood of articles" were written about its cellular data usage. This, according to the plaintiffs, was too late.
Apple notes on its support site that the Wi-Fi Assist can be used to automatically switch to cellular when having a poor Wi-Fi connection. It can be used with a number of apps such as Safari, Apple Music, Mail and Maps. When activated, you should see the cellular data icon in the status bar on the iOS device.
According to Apple, users might use more cellular data since they will need to connect to the internet in poor Wi-Fi situations. However, for most users this should be a small percentage higher than the previous usage.
The feature is turned on by default. If you don't want it, you can always disable it by going to Settings>> Cellular, then scroll down and tap Wi-Fi Assist.