Hey Apple: WiFi Does NOT Mean Fast, Free, or Unlimited!


iOS 8 - BigIf you've noticed a few hundred megabytes missing from your cellular data buckets this month, the guilty party may be lurking in your pocket, or sitting on your nightstand.

Yep - Apple had done it again.

As we wrote about last September when iOS 8.0 was released - Apple assumes that any iOS device connected to WiFi must be on a fast, unlimited, and free connection.

Whenever an OS update is released - iOS has a "feature" that uses the following logic to determine whether or not to trigger an automatic download of the update, silently in the background:

  • Am I plugged in and charging?
  • Do I have enough memory free?
  • Am I on WiFi and can I reach the internet?

If all three are true - iOS happily downloads the update, no matter how large.

And there remains absolutely no way to opt out of this behavior!

iOS 8.3 - Live Long & Prosper

If you see "Downloaded" when you check the Settings App under "General" and "Software Update", your iOS device has already downloaded the update. Doh!

If you see "Downloaded" when you check the Settings App under "General" and "Software Update", your iOS device has already downloaded the update. Doh!

iOS 8.3 is a relatively large update - featuring a whole slew of the usual performance improvements and bug fixes, as well as the new Vulcan "live long and prosper" hand salute Emoji.

By all accounts - it is proving to be a very solid and stable OS release.

All told - it adds up to a 200MB - 350MB download, depending on what device you have.

But if you are on a cellular-powered WiFi hotspot, a 300MB download could take a substantial chunk out of your monthly data allotment.

And if you have a multi-iGadget family, those downloads could begin to add up very fast!

In our case - five devices updated over WiFi over the past week.

That is a lot of data wasted!

And for those who aren't aware of what their gadgets are up to, this could lead to a lot of confusion and complaining at the end of the month too.

Tell Apple - Lay Off Your Data!

The "Automatic Download" settings apply only to app updates, NOT iOS updates.

Despite common misleading advice to the contrary - the "Automatic Download" settings apply only to app updates, NOT iOS updates.

Apple long ago responded to public outcry and gave users a way to reclaim the storage taken up by these automatic downloads.

But Apple still has not provided any way to opt out of the download entirely, delaying the update until you actually are on a real free and unlimited connection.

For most typical users this stock behavior doesn't matter - being on WiFi usually means that you are on an unlimited connection, at home or at work.

But for many RVers, our home and our work connections may be WiFi, but they are powered by data plans that may only have a few gigabytes available. Unlimited cellular data connections are rare and hard to find.

If you want to let Apple know that you want a way to opt out of this "feature" - and that WiFi does NOT always mean "free" - you can let Apple know at Apple's product feedback page.

Hopefully they are listening.

Opting out...  It is a good thing!


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