Smartphone use shows no sign of slowing down — last April, the Pew Research Center estimated that 64% of American adults now own a smartphone, up from just 35% in 2011. And 10% of Americans own a smartphone but don’t have any other method of high-speed Internet access at home beyond their smartphone’s data plan.
But recent news stories reveal that such a reliance on smartphones can be costly. One Miami family even got hit with a $2,000 monthly cell phone bill — purportedly because of a new iPhone feature called Wi-Fi Assist.
Wi-Fi Assist, which is standard with Apple’s new iOS 9.1 operating system, makes sure that customers can always maintain smartphone speeds by automatically switching to cellular data when a Wi-Fi router signal becomes weak.
In most instances, this is a brilliant feature — no more getting stuck in “data dead zones” where your phone remains connected to a weak Wi-Fi signal but refuses to switch over to the cellular network. (Think of leaving the office at the end of day and trying to check your personal email or travel apps while your phone stubbornly sticks with the distant Wi-Fi signal). But with most phone plans no longer covering unlimited data, in certain instances, this can quickly draw down your allotted monthly data total.
If you’ve got kids on your smartphone plan, the chances are higher. As any parent can testify, teenagers often use their smartphones for hours each day, browsing the Internet, streaming music and videos, and keeping up with social media accounts. If a Wi-Fi signal is weak in, say, a child’s bedroom, he or she might keep surfing the web to their heart’s content, all while assuming they’re connected to the home Wi-Fi network. If they’re straddling one of those “data dead zones,” they might inadvertently gobble up Mom and Dad’s data plan.
Can this issue be avoided?
You can turn off Wi-Fi Assist completely by going to Settings > Cellular > then turning off Wi-Fi Assist at the bottom of the screen. You can also set data-heavy apps that stream music or video like Netflix or Spotify to use Wi-Fi only in the same Settings > Cellular menu. And consider turning off Background App Refresh, which can also eat into your monthly data totals (and your battery life), especially for apps you don’t use frequently.
Have further questions about your smartphones and other on-the-go devices? Looking for the kind of mobile solutions that can help you achieve improved productivity and efficiency? Contact CMIT Solutions today. We worry about IT so you don’t have to.