Apple introduced a new Wi-Fi feature in iOS 9 called Wi-Fi Assist. With its help, an iOS device can quickly revert to cellular data if available to improve the performance of a shaky Wi-Fi network. As soon as iOS 9 became widely available, many users have started noticed their data usage started increasing considerably after upgrading to Apple’s latest mobile operating system, and Wi-Fi Assist was believed to be the culprit. iPhone users that have limited data traffic have been consequently advised to disable Wi-Fi Assist on their phones, which is turned on by default.
Apparently, Apple disagrees with that line of thinking. The company released a detailed help document that further explains how Wi-Fi Assist works.
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According to the company, Wi-Fi Assist will not automatically switch to cellular if you’re roaming. Furthermore, the feature only works with the apps that’s running in the foreground, so it doesn’t activate for background content. Finally, Wi-Fi Assist doesn’t activate with some third-party apps that stream audio or video, or that download attachments, as they might use large amounts of data.
That last note seems to contradict a different paragraph in Apple’s app support document that states Apple Music (a streaming app) supports Wi-Fi Assist. Given enough usage time, Wi-Fi Assist might increase cellular consumption especially if a user frequents areas where Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t dependable.
Apple also explains that Wi-Fi Assist shows the cellular data icon in the status bar when active, and that the feature doesn’t work on older models including iPhone 4s, iPad 2, iPad 3 and iPad mini.
Disabling Wi-Fi Assist is very easy: Just go to Settings, then Cellular and then scroll down until you find the Wi-Fi Assist toggle.