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IOS Wireless Networking Communications Iphone Network Operating Systems Software Apple Technology

iOS 11 Will Prevent Your iPhone From Automatically Connecting To Unreliable Wi-Fi Networks (trustedreviews.com) 88

A new feature spotted in iOS 11 beta 2 intelligently manages wireless networks based on their reliability, learning to ignore those that are too far away to provide a consistent experience. TrustedReviews reports: It follows the company's Wi-Fi Assist feature which meant handsets would switch to a data connection when Wi-Fi networks became too slow. Naturally, users weren't thrilled with the resulting data usage issues, and it seems Apple is looking to do better this time around. This new feature will disable "Auto join" for any network which suffers from low speed issues or is deemed to be generally unreliable. Users will, of course, still be able to join these networks manually, but the change should prevent the frustration that comes from iPhones automatically joining networks users know to be inadequate. At this point, there's no way to know how well the feature will work, and there will undoubtedly be issues when it eventually arrives in iOS 11.
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iOS 11 Will Prevent Your iPhone From Automatically Connecting To Unreliable Wi-Fi Networks

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  • Of course, it is a well known fact, corporations always know better than the customer, especially with regards to their needs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Eh? This isn't about you losing any control - you retain the choice to join any WiFi network you like.

      It's about the OS not choosing to auto-join ones that don't work.

    • No, they're just putting a bit of common sense into which connection they'll use. As opposed to Android, which will strain for minutes at a time to connect to some dodgy WiFi signal with the throughput of a 2400bps modem rather than using the high-speed 4G cellular that's all around it. Or connect to the 1-bar WiFi with almost no connectivity when there's a five-bar signal present alongside it. Or several other equally dumb options.
  • Recent XKCD post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @06:45AM (#54873089) Homepage Journal

    There's actually a very recent XKCD post about reliability of WiFi versus cellular: https://xkcd.com/1865/ [xkcd.com]

    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      hmmm... chipset conspiracy and collusion? Cellular brings in more money for the providers...

      • 90% of wifi nodes are the isps modem that they rent you. Placed in a convient spot for cable tv but not broadcasting wireless. I have always had my own routers and ap's and as such speeds are decent and coverage is great. My current house if setup the traditional way would have coverage for the main house barely. My setup with an outside ap and ceiling mounting ap covers the house, the garage the driveway and half the back yard in usable signal.

    • You mean $50k radios, with access to highly regulated frequencies, in bands that are far better suited for long-range communication provide a better connection than the cheap pieces of shit most people put in their homes, usually in awful locations, on an unregulated and congested frequency band? Man, I'm shocked.
      • by skids ( 119237 )

        It's not like, with apple devices, using an uncongested 5GHz band will help, unless you know enough to tune down your 2.4G radios so the 5GHz signal is always at least 3dB stronger, and play with the beacon interval to make 5GHz statistically more likely to be seen. And, make sure you aren't still joined to the AP by the door you came in from, because Apple wifi drivers won't let go of it despite being right next to another AP.

        I can't wait to see what new hell iOS11 brings to our enterprise setup.

  • Nothing there suggests that users still won't get bumped to a cellular network should the wireless one be deemed to be slow / unreliable (what is "slow"? Is that configurable?) just that you have to force the connection as it has been flagged. Will the forced connection remain even if it is "unreliable"?

    How about just a notification on the icon (like a ! ) to easily let the user know the connection isn't up to snuff for whatever reason? Then the _user_ can decide if they want to go on a (potentially metered

    • Yeah I know: "add". I even corrected the auto-correct, but it auto-corrected itself...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        > but it auto-corrected itself...

        This is eerily self-referencial. There's another post up there about "corporations knowing better than end users", and I was about to answer that what infuriates me is "software know better than end users", which to me is designer meta-arrogance. Utterly insulting.

        Sadly, you even meet this pattern in free software!

        Then, there you have it: your autocorrect knows better than you.

    • by necro81 ( 917438 )

      Nothing there suggests that users still won't get bumped to a cellular network should the wireless one be deemed to be slow / unreliable

      That is a feature (or is it a bug?) that is easily disabled [google.com]. One could argue that it ought to be turned off by default, rather than turned on. I've had it off for years. Considering that turning WiFi on an off is one swipe and tap away in most circumstances, it is trivial for me (or anyone else) to fall back on cellular data when the WiFi is crappy.

      I'll ask the audi

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think it's useful to the extent that the WiFi "signal strength" meter is 3 bars of meaningless information, and I'm often in a location where I get "1 bar" WiFi. I *could* let the app time out, swipe around to turn off WiFi (and forget to turn it back on) and then just use cellular, but it seems to me that assist prevents most data timeouts and gets me the useful information I'm looking for without a bunch of manual intervention.

        Of course, it's mostly when I'm doing something that requires a small amount

    • by MikeMo ( 521697 )
      You already have this. It's obvious when the connection isn't working well. With your suggestion, things would remain as they are: you notice internet sucks, you go turn off wifi.

      I have this happen to me all the time. I happen to have an Xfinity cable, and my phone automatically connects to any Xfinity hotspots when I'm outside the home. They usually suck, and I have to go to settings and turn wifi off. I hate having to do that, because I usually forget to turn it back on!

      I'm looking forward to this
      • What? Your home wifi doesn't have a unique SSID?

        It occurred to me long ago that a great attack vector would be to have an open network with a common default SSID. Especially for people who's gadgets autoconnect to whatever their default wireless name is at home.

        I don't connect to any open wireless network named after an ISP or a router manufacturer, and all the wifi systems I've set up have unique, meaningful names. (And they're not open, but that's another discussion.)

    • Nothing there suggests that users still won't get bumped to a cellular network should the wireless one be deemed to be slow / unreliable (what is "slow"? Is that configurable?) just that you have to force the connection as it has been flagged. Will the forced connection remain even if it is "unreliable"?

      How about just a notification on the icon (like a ! ) to easily let the user know the connection isn't up to snuff for whatever reason? Then the _user_ can decide if they want to go on a (potentially metered) cellular network. This can have an configuration option (default off) that automatically does this should the user be on an unmetered plan.

      Given the options of "pay and get the content (probably an add) quicker" or "I can wait a few more seconds for free" even iPhone users would probably choose the latter.

      Yeah, Apple is evil, and wants you to spend money ON A CELL NETWORK THEY DON'T OWN.

      Riiiight.

      Fucking Haters.

      • No, my point was that to give the user the fastest response the phone switches networks for them. The priority is on the speed of transfer (which is fair enough, users want content NOW),, not any associated cost that might arise from it.

        Maybe Apple think that if you can afford their stuff you're most likely on an unmetered plan or don't mind a few dollars extra on your bill at the end of the month. Or maybe they didn't even consider the unintended circumstance because it didn't affect any of those who thoug

        • No, my point was that to give the user the fastest response the phone switches networks for them. The priority is on the speed of transfer (which is fair enough, users want content NOW),, not any associated cost that might arise from it.

          Maybe Apple think that if you can afford their stuff you're most likely on an unmetered plan or don't mind a few dollars extra on your bill at the end of the month. Or maybe they didn't even consider the unintended circumstance because it didn't affect any of those who thought it was a good idea. I'd go with the latter because of the complaints mentioned in TFS.

          I think that any algorithm may have corner-cases and weighting-issues; and I also think that Apple will need some real-world data to tune said algorithm.

          IOW, it's too soon to tell.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At this point, there's no way to know how well the feature will work

    Well given that there's a public beta and your website is called TrustedReviews, how about you do your job, install the beta, and review how it works? Or are you just going to regurgitate information you found on the web? Because that's not a review I trust.

  • When traveling, I often join a local WiFi network for an hour or a day. When I am leaving the area, I don't always remember to go into iOS wifi settings and saying to "forget this network". Once the network is out of range, I don't know of a way to tell iOS to forget about it. I know that this increases my threat envelope somewhat, because iOS will keep looking for that network (or one with the same SSID).

    So: does anyone know of a way to get iOS to list all the WiFi networks it has remembered, so that
    • hummm, well, it's 2017, and has been in every windows distro or android, so this must exist in iOS too

    • OS X and iOS have been exchanging WiFi connections for ages so I wonder if you delete it from OS X, if that will delete it from iOS as well.
      I can't test is as this feature for some reason does not work with my iCloud account and I can't get it to work.

  • what really is intriguing is the evaluation of the network bandwidth since apple can not even set the captive portal detection server they run to send HTTP headers correctly to no-cache... I'd like to see their workings and I'm sure the network administrators who control the MDM systems would as well...

    Apple has quite an investment in the enterprise space and a change to networking would be quite a change...

    regards

    John Jones

  • I have this same problem on my Android phone. Both my cellular and my home internet ISPs have hotspots all over the place that I can use for "free" (read included with my plans). They really do have heavy coverage which is handy if you are in a business or public venue or whatever and can connect to their "free" wifi. The problem is, I may walk into a business that is a few doors down from one with a hotspot, and my phone will happily connect to the SSID at -85 dBm. This is not a particularly useable sig

    • by hackel ( 10452 )

      Obviously asking users to understand what signal strength in dB means is not an option. They could have a slider or something, though. "poor-low-med-high' etc. In the meantime, you can enable "Aggressive Wi-Fi to Mobile handover" in developer options.

      • Then I end up on LTE when I am at home sitting next to my access point. I'm not sure how it is trying to measure "bandwidth", but it does not work well.

  • And how long before blocking malware/adware/marketing at the router level considered "unreliable"?

  • I believe Android has had this feature since at least the 4.0 days. It definitely seems like a must. Apple is too focused on shiny toys to attract their baby-like fans instead of actual technical solutions people need. Oh well, glad they've finally gotten it.

  • My Android devices have been doing this as well lately, especially my Pixel C, and I get it. The problem is that I realize that the network has some reliability issues when I choose to connect to it but it's what's available without using up my cellular data allowances. All the available WiFi in the area is about the same as far as reliability goes. My choices are to tolerate it, or go to my home or office for a "reliable" connection.
  • At home when storms roll through my crappy cable internet can die on my but the Wi-Fi signal will still be strong. My iPhone will keep hammering away at the Wi-Fi because it sees a signal but it goes no where. If I disable the Wi-Fi and use the cellular network instead then I can go back to my e-mail, surf the web, or whatever. If the iPhone was smart enough to switch to cellular data when the Wi-Fi internet connection dies on me then that would be convenient. When the Wi-Fi internet comes back, because

    • At home when storms roll through my crappy cable internet can die on my but the Wi-Fi signal will still be strong. My iPhone will keep hammering away at the Wi-Fi because it sees a signal but it goes no where

      Fair enough. A great wifi radio signal with no backhaul would be kind of the opposite of my issue and just as annoying. Hopefully future solutions will consider all the various failure modes.

    • You could swap your iPhone with an Android phone and this problem will be fixed.

      Or you could want until the iOS update with this feature and you phone will start ignoring your home WiFi completely, even when there is no storm.

  • My Nexus6 wont connect to wifi in China if the phone is connected .... why? because Google considers a network to be seriously broken if you can't access Google's servers .... so Google thinks your expensive roaming connection is the only valid connection you have

    You can get around this by doing the counter intuitive going into flight mode and then tuirning on wifi

    While it's arguable that the connection IS broken it's still useful (wechat works for example) even if you're stuck with bing

    • You can turn off mobile data without flight mode. You can still use the cellular connection for calling and text messaging.

  • Perhaps the phone should only automatically connect to networks the user has requested it do so.

    Like on my laptop, there is a "Connect automatically" checkbox.

    • Like on my laptop, there is a "Connect automatically" checkbox.

      Yes. We would like a "Connect automatically if this network is better than the one I'm on" checkbox, with a handful of parameters to define better.

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