APPLE IS HURTLING TOWARDS a $5m class-action lawsuit over its controversial data-slurping WiFi Assist feature.
WiFi Assist, which debuted in iOS 9 in September, switches users to 3G or 4G if they're experiencing a shoddy a WiFi connection. All this all sounds well and good, but the feature controversially comes switched on by default, which has caused some people to exceed their monthly data allowance and subsequently run up huge phone bills.
A California-based couple has now filed a class-action lawsuit accusing Apple of doing too little to warn iPhone owners about WiFi Assist's data use.
The plaintiffs, William and Suzanne Phillips, allege that, because the feature is enabled on every iOS 9 device, the total potential damages exceeds $5m. They themselves incurred overuse charges on their iPhone 5S handsets after upgrading to iOS 9.
The complaint accuses Apple of violating California's Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law, and of negligent misrepresentation.
"Defendant's above corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur," the suit reads, according to Apple Insider.
"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 use."
Apple has yet to respond. However, the firm said in response to early complaints about the feature: "WiFi Assist won't automatically switch to cellular if you're data roaming; WiFi Assist only works when you have apps running in the foreground.
"It doesn't activate with background download of content; WiFi doesn't activate with certain third-party apps that stream audio or video, or download attachments, like an email app, as they might use large amounts of data."
Thankfully, WiFi Assist can be switched off. Head to Settings > Cellular/Mobile Data and scroll to the bottom to do so. µ
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