How does iOS 9’s Wi-Fi Assist work; and how to disable it

When you are on a weak Wi-Fi signal your videos stutter, your webpages barely load, and your irritation increases. iPhone owners have sought a remedy to this issue for years and Apple has finally addressed the situation in a somewhat hidden addition in iOS 9

How does Wi-Fi Assist work

The main issue Wi-Fi Assist addresses is that constant desire to stay on a super weak Wi-Fi signal before finally switching to your cellular data. Now, when you are in your backyard or in the part of your house where the Wi-Fi signal is weak, your iPhone will no longer seek to stay connected to the Wi-Fi network when the signal drops to lower levels. Instead, your phone will automatically connect to the cellular network, to ensure it maintains a reliable data connection. So you won’t face the annoying issue of the app not being able to load something because the Wi-Fi signal is weak, and forcing you to manually disable Wi-Fi to connect to the cellular network.

We’re assuming that if there is a delay while opening a TCP connection on Wi-Fi, the device will quickly initiate a second connection on cellular. The first connection available is used. If the cellular connection is used the Wi-Fi indicator will be hidden.

How to enable/disable iOS 9’s Wi-Fi assist

Wi-Fi Assist is enabled by default. To view or change this status go to Settings -> Cellular (Mobile in some regions) and scroll down to the bottom where you will see Wi-Fi Assist. 

Wi-Fi Assit

Wi-Fi Assist: automatically uses cellular data when Wi-Fi connectivity is poor. 

This is important to note for two reasons:

  1. The obvious benefit users will get is that they no longer have to deal with their phone clinging to distant and weak Wi-Fi signals.
  2. The fact that cellular data is being used in place of Wi-Fi. So, for folks that have a small data plan, all those instances can start to add up.

Let’s say you are in your house, but decide to walk around in your backyard. With Wi-Fi assist enabled, if your signal weakens you could be using up cellular data that previously wouldn’t exist. And since this feature is enabled by default, data-pinchers should be aware.

But all-in-all, Wi-Fi assist is more of a benefit than a nuisance. Maintaining a reliable connection is important for streaming music, watching videos, or browsing the web.

Let us know what you think of Wi-Fi assist in the comment section.

Check out the iOS 9 page for our comprehensive coverage of all the new and hidden iOS 9 features.