We are a couple of months away from iPhone 8, to whatever Apple decides to name their 10th anniversary iPhone (and iPhone 7s and 7s Plus), and already we see a fix in iOS 11 for one of my most hated iPhone crimes.
No, not just that iPhone has Wi-Fi. We need that. What we need, too, is a smarter iPhone that knows the difference between a network you want to connect to and one you don’t.
Here’s the problem as I see it. Your mileage may vary, of course, but this is a major issue for those of us who live and work in a metropolitan area, or who simply move around during the day or night.
Wi-Fi networks are everywhere. So, let’s say I leave the office and the Wi-Fi network I was using, iPhone in tow, and head out down the street to grab a quick lunch. Along the way there will be a dozen to two dozen or more Wi-Fi networks that my stupid iPhone tries to connect to while I’m heading to my destination.
That means my iPhone doesn’t work so well while I’m in transit because it can’t connect but it keeps trying, one network after another. Way back in iOS 9 Apple had something of a fix with Wi-Fi Assist which would keep iPhone users on their cell network whenever a Wi-Fi network didn’t meet some kind of connection standard.
That was a problem, too, because iPhone users thought they were using Wi-Fi, albeit slow Wi-Fi, while the iPhone was chewing up data via the nearest cell phone tower, which resulted in, well, you get the idea. Nobody except the cell phone carriers was happy with Wi-Fi Assist.
iOS 11 promises to bring more confusion to a complicated situation– instead of the solution we want. Your iPhone will decided whether a nearby Wi-Fi network is crappy and not join automatically (even if you’ve joined before). That’s not a bad thing if the Wi-Fi icon disappears from the top of the iPhone’s screen so you know you’re not connected to Wi-Fi.
What’s happening is simple. Auto-join is disabled for that network for that connection attempt. If you want to join a lousy network you can, but it’s the same old manual process.
What I would like to see is different. My iPhone should know how fast my cell phone connection is at any location, then decide which of the two– cell phone connection or nearby Wi-Fi network– is best, and connect according.
Yeah, I know. Easier said than done, but what I want from iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Watch these days is more built-in smarts, rather than a growing list of manually operated features, or a humongous list of settings and configurations.
Yes, I could turn off Wi-Fi before leaving wherever and then turn it back on after returning, ensuring that at least a half-way decent cell phone connection can be used instead of sporadic Wi-Fi connections, but that’s not how humanity works, and it is exactly how I would expect a smart smartphone to act.
Another way would be location sensing. In other words, once I leave office or home, my iPhone knows I’ve left that location, so give me the configuration option to switch from Wi-Fi to cell phone connection without human intervention.
Good idea, no?