What went wrong with iOS 6 Wi-Fi

If you have an Apple device that you just upgraded to iOS 6, you may have lost your Wi-Fi connection for a while. Here's what happened.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Yesterday's iOS 6 Wi-Fi problems had more to do with an Apple Web site blunder than iOS 6.

Yesterday was a big day for Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad fans. The latest and greatest version of iOS 6, the operating system for late model Apple devices, was out. Millions of eager users upgraded... and then their Wi-Fi failed. What went wrong?

It was ironic. The update itself went amazingly well for many users. IOS 6 also fixed many security problems. And, most users were very happy with this update. Well, except for the ones that couldn't connect with the Internet. They were none too happy.

Fortunately for them, Apple was able to quick fix the problem.

So what happened? A network configuration blunder? Some glitch in the code itself? Something odd in the IOS 6 default Wi-Fi setting? No, no, and no.

The problem turned out to be that when you turned your device on and you tried to connect with a Wi-Fi network, the first thing iOS 6 did was to try to connect to an Apple Web page. All that page does is return the word, “Success.” If the device couldn't reach that page, it returned a 404 error. The Wi-Fi connection routine then presumed you must be behind a login page for a public or corporate Wi-Fi network, say your local coffee-shop or your office, and it then allowed the local login page to load.

But, what happened if you were trying to login into your own or an open Wi-Fi network and iOS 6 couldn't find the Web page? All kinds of bad things, most of which boiled down to this: You couldn't connect to your Wi-Fi network. 

How could this happen? Well, someone who used to be an Apple employee seems to have deleted that Web page. Whoops! And, just like that, many newly updated iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads users were locked off the Internet.

Apple quickly brought the page back and reports of iOS 6 Wi-Fi problems have vanished like morning dew under the early day sun. I still think there's a problem hiding here waiting to come out and bite users again.

While I'm sure Apple will never take that page down again, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack could knock out Apple's Web site and thus many of its iOS 6 users again. I think Apple should rewrite that bit of code to check on more than just a single in-house Web page to prevent another such single point of failure problem reappearing again.

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