EFF Blasts Apple For Misleading Bluetooth And Wi-Fi Toggle Switch Behavior In iOS 11

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Apple released its iOS 11 operating system late last month, and users have already run into a number of problems with the operating system. There have been complaints about battery life, and two quick point releases have been issued during the first month of availability (iOS 11.0.1 and 11.0.2) to fix lingering issues.

Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is taking Apple to task over its toggle switches for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in Control Center (blue represents on, gray means off). In previous versions of the iOS, toggling either the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth switches would actually completely turn off those respective wireless radios.

With iOS 11, however, flipping a toggle switch to off for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth doesn't actually turn the radio completely off. Instead, the Wi-Fi toggle will simply disconnect you from the currently connected network, while the Bluetooth toggle will disconnect from some devices, but not others. For example, connections to an Apple Watch or Apple Pencil will still be active despite the Bluetooth toggle being switched to the "Off" position.

The EFF says that these "off-ish" settings are misleading to customers, and goes on to explain that there are even more troubling aspects to this new toggle switch behavior.

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"When you toggle these settings in the Control Center to what is best described as 'off-ish', they don’t stay that way. The Wi-Fi will turn back full-on if you drive or walk to a new location," said the EFF's Andreas Arrieta. "And both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will turn back on at 5:00 AM. This is not clearly explained to users, nor left to them to choose, which makes security-aware users vulnerable as well."

The EFF adds that user security could be put at risk because of this change. If an iOS user decides to toggle off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth from Control Center, perhaps to stay "under the radar" so to speak with regards to wireless exploits, iOS 11 is actually doing these people a disservice.

"A user has no visual or textual clues to understand the device's behavior, which can result in a loss of trust in operating system designers to faithfully communicate what’s going on," added Arrieta. "In an attempt to keep you connected to Apple devices and services, iOS 11 compromises users' security. Such a loophole in connectivity can potentially leave users open to new attacks."

It should be noted that users are still able to completely turn off their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios -- they just need to do so from within the Settings app instead of Control Center.