Apple's Wi-Fi Assist iOS 9 feature subject of $5M lawsuit

First the complaints about Apple's iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature came via the media and from customers over social media. Now a Florida couple who own iPhone 5S devices has taken the frustration to a new level and slapped Apple with a class-action lawsuit over the technology, which can jack up your cellular data usage if you don't know it's turned on.

First the complaints about Apple's iOS 9 Wi-Fi Assist feature came via the media and from customers over social media. Now a Florida couple who own iPhone 5S devices has taken the frustration to a new level and slapped Apple with a class-action lawsuit over the technology, which can jack up your cellular data usage if you don't know it's turned on.

Apple Insider reports that "plaintiffs William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips allege in a suit filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Friday that because of costs related to Wi-Fi Assist, the 'overall amount in controversy exceeds' $5 million." Fortune says Apple declined to comment on the suit.

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The complaint goes on to say that Apple failed to really explain how Wi-Fi Assist works (See "Apple comes to controversial Wi-Fi Assist's defense") until after complaints arose online in the press and on social media networks.

Wi-Fi Assist Bob Brown

Wi-Fi Assist turned off on iPhone 6S

Since Apple released iOS 9 in mid-September for its iPhones and iPads one of the most talked about -- and maligned -- features has been a hard-to-find one dubbed Wi-Fi Assist. 

In a nutshell, Wi-Fi Assist is designed to save your connection from crapping out when you're in a weak Wi-Fi zone by switching you over to cellular wireless. And the feature is on by default.

The problem there, if Wi-Fi Assist's tolerance for Wi-Fi shakiness is low, is that you could chow down a lot of your data plan, which of course would be worrisome and possibly expensive if you don't have unlimited data from your carrier. We reported earlier this month about how at least one university IT department and at least one carrier was warning users about the feature (See "Apple Wi-Fi Assist: Threat, Menace or Neither?").

If you want to take a look at the lawsuit, go here. But first, iOS 9 users, you might want to turn off Wi-Fi Assist. To do so, go to Settings, then Cellular, then scroll down to Wi-Fi Assist, and turn it off.

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