William and Suzanne Phillips, a couple from California have pressed charges against Apple for damages involving Wi-Fi Assist. The couple wants Apple to pay them $5 million. They allege that after upgrading to iOS 9 on their iPhone 5s models, they started incurring excess charges because they accidentally passed their data limits without knowing. The lawsuit states that many people using this particular phone are running up unknown charges and that the potential damages surrounding this case are more than $5 million.
Apple has a feature in their new version of iOS that uses mobile data to run their apps when Wi-Fi connectivity is weak. This feature, known as Wi-Fi assist data, is set in a way that it senses when there is an issue with the wireless network the phone is connected to and immediately reroutes the device over mobile data. This feature is controversial as it is enabled by default in this latest version of Apple mobile software.
The couple says that Apple should refund their customers for the huge bills they have incurred while using this new feature. Users of iOS have reported similar cases of accidentally receiving huge bills for mobile data usage when they thought that they were using their WiFi rather than their mobile network.
In response to these claims, Apple made an update in their website telling their users that “may use more cellular data” when the feature is turned on but that it should only be a very small percentage higher than the previous usage. The plaintiffs say that this is not enough because the disclaimer downplays the likely data charges which are very high, and the user will still be affected. They continued to say that the average consumers of Apple’s iOS iPhone use their phones for streaming videos, music and accessing several mobile applications. All this activities use a considerable amount of data.
Apple has been charged with negligent and misrepresentation because of breaching California’s Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law. Later on, Apple gave its users a small guideline on how the feature works on their website:
“Wi-Fi Assist will not automatically switch to cellular if you are data roaming. Wi-Fi Assist only works when you have apps running in the foreground and doesn’t activate with background downloading content. Wi-Fi Assist doesn’t activate with some third-party apps that stream audio or video or download attachments like the email app, as they might use large amounts of data.”