Apple’s new Control Center in iOS 11 is a lot more fully featured, with a customizable layout and a number of new added controls accessible with Force Touch. One aspect of it that may have, at least at first, appeared like a big plus is now proving to be a bit of a security and usability problem: the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi controls.
In iOS 11, Apple lets you disconnect devices or disconnect from networks by toggling off those two buttons from within the Control Center. Those buttons do not, however, deactivate the actual radios in the device, Motherboard reports. Instead, Apple leaves both running in the background to keep certain things intact, like the file-transferring feature AirDrop and productivity feature Handoff, geolocation services, and communication with a paired Apple Watch. This is a change from how these buttons have worked in the past.
PSA: iOS 11 new control center WiFi and Bluetooth toggles don’t actually turn off their respective radios.
— Andrea Barisani (@AndreaBarisani) September 20, 2017
While this may be a smart move on Apple’s part to make it more difficult to accidentally disconnect an Apple Watch or turn off a bunch of useful features, it opens up users to unnecessary security risk. Security researcher Andrea Barisani, who noticed the change and has been tweeting about it since iOS 11’s launch yesterday, told Motherboard that it’s “good practice” to disconnect from Bluetooth and Wi-Fi if you’re concerned about potential attacks. (There are also good reasons to turn both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off for conserving battery and improving cellular connection.)
To do that, you now must go directly into each respective settings menu and switch the button off. For Apple, which prides itself on its simple interfaces and approachable design, this change could have the adverse effect of tricking users into thinking they don’t have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth activated.