We’re all familiar with how costly data can be on our iOS devices if we’re using them to get on the internet abroad with no access to a Wi-Fi hotspot. To prevent nasty charges, most of us turn off data roaming and avoid using our devices for the internet.
However, there’s a nasty bug in Apple’s iOS operating system that could cost you a fortune while you’re on vacation by allowing you to download apps over a 3G data network even with the feature turned off.
Pocket-lint reports that the “dramatic” flaw affects 3G-connected devices — that’s the iPhone and the iPad — running both iOS 4 and iOS 5. It’s most likely to affect those who take their device abroad, hook it up to a Wi-Fi hotspot and then begin downloading their app updates only to have their connection to switch over to 3G halfway through. However, it could also be a problem for those who do not have data included in their plan.
In the App Store settings menu on your iOS device, there’s an option that allows you to use mobile data to download App Store purchases. By default, this is set to off, and you’ll want to keep it off if you have to pay for your data.
The problem is, it doesn’t actually do anything. Even with this option toggled off, your device will still allow you to download apps over a 3G network, as demonstrated in the video below from Pocket-lint:
As you can see, this little problem is going to be a huge issue to a large proportion of iOS device users. In fact, I think it’s so significant that I’m very surprised it’s been a problem since iOS 4 — as Pocket-lint claims. What’s more, the reader who alerted Pocket-lint to the bug claims to have contacted Apple’s customer care team about the problem on November 15, and has yet to receive a response.