A new Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS feature called "Wi-Fi Plus Cellular" would automatically shift devices from a problematic Wi-Fi signal to 3G or 4G, allowing engaged apps to shift to the connected network rather than screech to a halt in wireless limbo.
The feature is found in the latest version of iOS 6, which is in development. Not only would the feature, if it makes it into the final OS that Apple releases, ensure automatic syncing across networks or applications such as iCloud Documents, iTunes purchases and Safari reading lists, it would also seamlessly keep FaceTime video calls going on a 3G or 4G network once they start to bog down on a Wi-Fi network, said Apple Insider.
FaceTime functionality might raise some issues with mobile networks, however, given that FaceTime video calling is limited to Wi-Fi in earlier versions of Apple's iOS. It has been reported that AT&T (NYSE:T) intends to charge extra for FaceTime if Apple enables the app's use over mobile networks. Last month AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson said it is too soon to say whether the company will charge cellular customers for using FaceTime.
According to Byte, users of iOS 6 devices with the Wi-Fi Plus Cellular feature would have a software-based on-off switch that they can use to determine which apps revert to cellular data when Wi-Fi data fizzles out. However, it is unclear at this point how Wi-Fi might be reengaged once a strong signal is reacquired. If apps remain on cellular when they should be on Wi-Fi, they could potentially rack up huge mobile data charges for a user.
In addition, Byte said that from what has been seen of iOS 6 Beta 4 so far, the Wi-Fi Plus Cellular feature does not notify the user when it switches from Wi-Fi to cellular data.
Our sister publication FierceWireless has compiled a list of the five most prominent rumors about Apple's iPhone 5, whose unveiling is widely rumored to be planned for Sept. 12.
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