Apple on Tuesday began pushing a fix to a WiFi bug in iOS 6 that targets the iPhone 5 and iPad mini.
Apple has released very little information about the fix. Its support site simply describes the 6.0.2 update as “fixes a bug that could impact WiFi.”
This latest fix for iOS 6 is the second since the software was released in September. The first fix addressed a number of problems including the display of horizontal lines across the iPhone’s virtual keyboard, inability to perform over-the-air updates on the iPhone 5 and the removal of meetings from the calendar after the user accepts an invitation to attend.
Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.
No Quality Concerns
Several iPhone owners running iOS 6 reported receiving no update notice early Tuesday, though one had, so it appears the fix is being rolled out slowly. None of the iPhone owners said they’d experienced any WiFi problems with iOS 6.
Fixes like those released since the introduction of iOS 6 should be expected and aren’t necessarily signs of quality control slip-ups at Apple.
It’s not unusual for a new release of a product to need bug fixes, according to Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.
“A major release will have some bugs, but Apple’s quality control is best-in-class, and their releases go out with minimal bug issues,” he told MacNewsWorld.
Apple releases updates only when they’re ready for market. In some cases, that may be twice a year, in others, it could be as long as eight months, he explained. “And if there are security issues, they may update it more often.”
It does appear, though, that Apple is pushing out fixes for iOS 6 at a brisk pace. “This is bug fixing on the fly,” observed Carl Howe, research director at the Yankee Group.
“As soon as they find cures for problems, they release them,” Howe told MacNewsWorld.
The latest bug fix addresses a compatibility problem with 802.11 routers that use the 5-GHz band, he explained.
Routers that comply with the 802.11 standard may support the 2.4-GHz or 5-GHz bands, or both. Routers supporting 802.11a, for example, only support 5 GHz. Those with 802.11g support only 2.4 GHz. Those with 802.11n support both.
The 2.4-GHz band is crowded, however, because it’s used by lots of devices — Bluetooth gadgets, cordless phones, baby monitors, even microwave ovens. Access to the 5-GHz band, which is less crowded, can result in cleaner reception.
The problem with the standard for 5-GHz WiFi, according to Howe, is that it’s not a fully specified standard. In other words, there’s room for router makers to vary their implementation of it. Not all vendors do 5 GHz right, he asserted, but users expect their devices to work with their router, even if its maker did it wrong.
Such inconsistencies can trip up a device maker, and that appears to be what happened to Apple. “You can be connected to [5-GHz] WiFi, but all your data may not be going over that WiFi network, so you end up using some cellular data when it should be going over WiFi,” explained Michael Morgan, mobile devices analyst at ABI Research.
Between bug fixes and the Apple Maps fiasco, the iPhone 5 has received more adverse publicity than most new iPhone models, but that isn’t affecting sales, according to Morgan.
Apple will sell 40 million iPhones in the quarter ending on Dec. 31, he predicted. That would be a 48 percent increase over sales during the previous quarter, when 27 million iPhones were sold.
However, that’s less of a sales bump than occurred when the iPhone 4S was introduced in 2011. Then, quarter-to-quarter sales jumped almost 118 percent, from 17 million to 37 million units.
Nevertheless, the iPhone 5 will be a winner for Apple, Howe believes. “I think people are going to be amazed at how many iPhone 5’s will be sold. There’s every possibility that it will set a new record.”