by Jim Lynch

iOS 9.3: See how much data Wi-Fi Assist has used

Jan 19, 2016
iOSMobileSmall and Medium Business

iOS 9.3 adds the ability to see how much data Wi-Fi assist has used. But Apple needs to add a data cap control so users can set a limit on cellular data used by Wi-Fi Assist.

iOS 9.3 has some very cool features, but one that has been mostly overlooked is a change to Wi-Fi Assist. Wi-Fi Assist lets your iPhone switch to a cellular connection if your Wi-Fi connection is bad.

While this is convenient, it also makes it possible to use more cellular data than you might realize, and that can be bad if it runs up a user’s cellular data bill.

How to see Wi-Fi Assist data usage in iOS 9.3

In iOS 9.3 you can now easily see how much data Wi-Fi Assist has been using.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Tap on Cellular.

3. Scroll down to Wi-Fi Assist.

4. If you’ve had Wi-Fi Assist enabled, you’ll see a data number on the switch that controls Wi-Fi Assist.

ios 9.3 wifi assist data usage MacRumors

Wi-Fi Assist should also have a control added to set a data limit

While I think that displaying the Wi-Fi Assist data usage number is a good start, Apple needs to do more than just show the amount of data that has been used.

The company should add an option to restrict data usage to a particular number set by the user. For example, if a user wanted to limit Wi-Fi Assist to 1 GB, he or she should be able to do so to protect themselves from going over the limit of their data plan.

I’m not sure if such a control is in Apple’s iOS development plans, but I think it would be very helpful for most iPhone users, and it would eliminate the worry about getting hit with a big cellular data bill when using Wi-Fi Assist.

I keep Wi-Fi Assist turned off on my iPhone 6 Plus

I do not use Wi-Fi Assist. I’m on a very limited data plan, and there’s no way I wanted to risk going over my data limit by keeping Wi-Fi Assist on, so I turned it off immediately after I became aware of it. And, frankly, I’ve never had a Wi-Fi connection that was so bad that I needed it anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Wi-Fi Assist can be a very useful feature. But without any way to limit the amount of data it uses, I’m just not going to risk having it turned on. I don’t want to get whacked with a giant cellular data bill because I forgot to check and see how much data Wi-Fi Assist has been using.

MacRumors Forum members share their thoughts about Wi-Fi Assist

The news about Apple’s tweak to Wi-Fi Assist caught the attention of the folks in the MacRumors Forum and they weren’t shy about sharing their opinions about it:

Btrach144: ”Wifi assist should have been turned off by default and this whole thing could have been avoided.”

Arggg14: ”Not sure why this feature it turned on by default. I know Apple wants users to have the best experience, but I’d rather wait for my wifi to load while I’m 50 feet away from my router instead of burning through my data plan.”

Marcr1230: ”Wifi Assist is great for anyone in an urban environment with lots of weak or transient Wifi signals (like when you are on a bus or train) – rather than trying to connect for 30 seconds to an unusable wifi signal – your phone stays on cellular/LTE.”

Ghostface147: ”Didn’t do an adequate job explaining what it did is their excuse? Seems very simple to me. If you have low wi-fi signal, it uses your cell data to assist. The only think it doesn’t specify is what is considered low signal. Being at one bar on your wi-fi icon could be different signal strengths, just like cell signals. One bar could be -105 or -120 dBm. Maybe they could be a little more specific and say it will kick on when you hit one bar of signal strength on wi-fi instead of an algorithm we don’t know.”

FSMBP: ”Would be nice if iOS quickly showed my monthly data-usage (that reset automatically) and would give me notifications when I’m X% close to my data cap.”

Small White Car: ”I like this feature and I leave it turned on but it is kind of sketchy how they hide it WAY at the bottom of the cellular page beneath the long list of apps. Why isn’t it up with all of the other cellular settings?”

Macduke: ”Apple should have left it turned off by default. Heck, I think Siri is turned off by default. Or at least she was for years. Then, when the WiFi signal strength is being sketchy for a while, pop up with a dialog to enable it in the settings. If they dismiss the dialog, never ask again. That’s how you do UX. They already do something similar with having WiFi turned off and location accuracy or something.”

Robert Walter: ”This feature cost me a bundle. I was an iOS pub beta tester and wasn’t even aware that it was even added to the software. ”

AlexisV: ”Grrr! I’ve been trying for weeks to figure out why we apparently have such a poor wifi signal. This is the stupidest setting ever and it’s hidden right at the bottom of the settings screen. Turned it off on our iPhones and iPad. Our iPad data is capped so this has cost us for going over.”

Lordofthereef: ”Know what I would love? To be able to set in a setting the date when my billing cycle refreshes. The data usage statistics (overall) are useless to me if I’m not manually resetting them every month.”

More at the MacRumors Forum

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