iOS 9 introduced Wi-Fi Assist, a smart feature designed to automatically switch to cellular data when the Wi-Fi signal is poor or the connection drops. Technically, it can be very useful if you want your phone connected to the Internet at all times and you’re often in areas with unreliable or poor Wi-Fi connections.
Practically, Wi-Fi Assist was turned on by default and some people didn’t even knew it existed until they woke up with huge phone bills from data overage fees. There have been several cases featured in the media of people that claim they received phone bills worth thousands of dollars because of Wi-Fi assist. Apple got themselves a few class action lawsuits in the process.
Despite all of this, there’s no need to fear Wi-Fi Assist – when properly set up can be of great use without eating up too much cellular data.
View Wi-Fi Assist mobile data usage
Apple seems to have realized their mistake as iOS 9.3, among all its new features such as lockable Notes and Night Shift, brought a small but important change to Wi-Fi Assist. It is now possible to view Wi-Fi Assist mobile data usage, so you can always know how long you have before reaching the monthly data cap and plan accordingly.
When you open the Settings app and navigate to Cellular, you’ll notice the ‘Wi-Fi Assist’ option now has a counter that displays the total amount of data it used so far.
If you want to disable Wi-Fi Assist, all you need to do is toggle off the switch next to the option on the Cellular settings screen.
Do you actually need Wi-Fi Assist?
That is the question, right? Before you decide, here’s how it works: should your Wi-Fi signal drop or become poor, Wi-Fi Assis will kick in and switch over to cellular data. During this time, there won’t be any large downloads, apps automatically updating or video and audio streaming.
No data is used in the background and it doesn’t support roaming. As an example, if Wi-Fi Assist switched your phone to cellular data as you were browsing your Facebook feed, data would only be used while the app is on screen. The same goes for any of your installed apps.
As a result, it seems the feature can be quite ‘data-friendly’ and if you never used it before, it’s definitely worth a try, especially now that you can view Wi-Fi Assist mobile data usage.