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Windows Phone 8.1’s new Wi-Fi settings reveal auto turn-on feature

Windows Phone 8.1. While features like Action Center get a lot of the attention, we’ve repeatedly mentioned that there will be lots of small changes throughout the OS. Those changes are the real nitty-gritty that will make your everyday experience much more fulfilling.

Today, we have some new Wi-Fi Settings that are part of the beta SDK, but are actually hidden. Developer David S. sent us in these screenshots after unlocking the feature in that SDK. Windows Phone Central has since independently verified their authenticity as a forthcoming feature in 8.1.

The feature is not groundbreaking, but useful for many. Users will be able to turn off Wi-Fi for a pre-set duration, ranging from 1 hour, 4 hours, 1 day or manually. Afterwards, the Wi-Fi will pop on automatically. That feature could be useful if you know you’ll be away from home for a few hours, or if you’re at the movies.

Can you think of other instances where you could use this? Let us know in comments! For more, check our our full feature list:

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Reader comments

Windows Phone 8.1’s new Wi-Fi settings reveal auto turn-on feature

183 Comments

I'm hoping there is an option to turn off wifi and data when the screen is locked.

My brother has an Xperia Z1S and uses that feature. Yea, he doesn't care about real time updates.

But his phone's battery life is night and day compared to my Lumia 925.

70-80% by the end of day is ridiculous.

That feature is already present in WP8. Infact, i think by default, wifi will be disabled when screen goes into standby. You need to untick to have it not disable wifi during standby.

I don't get it why it would be for. Switching off cellular data and WiFi gives almost no battery save in Lumia 920. I've also switched on option with permanent WiFi activity (even during screen lock). The battery drainage looks similar to the previous options state. Uselles IMHO.

I think you are just mistaken...  If you look at the top drains on a phone's battery...#1 is obviously going to be the screen.  The longer it is on, the faster it dies, BY FAR.  #2 is going to be the radios, be it cellular, WiFi, or locations...there is a reason they give you 'stand by' ratings and 'talk time' ratings and they differ by days.

Put your phone into Airplane mode (which is the same as turning off all the radios in it) and see how long it lasts.

Would be real nice if there was a custom length.  I do not have Wi-Fi at work, so a setting of 9-10 hours and I know it would be on the second I get back home from a 8 hour day.

Still nice, though.

I'm in the same boat, but i could live with 8 hours, the hour or so of being on afterwards isn't gonna make or break my battery if i'm not using my phone. 

Very strange that 8 or 10 hour options aren't included.  Seems so obvious that they should be there, It's what most people consider as their work day.

I think the manually option will allow you to input a specific value.  Obviously I don't know for sure, but it makes the most sense.  Let's hope!

chances are anything could go wrong with this feature similar to how my dvp's wifi seems like since the 2-3 last updates it has had problems coming on on after the phone turns on so i ended up just leaving it turned on

Did you see the setting for WiFi Sense in the first picture? It says it requires location services. I think your wish may be covered.

Phone already does that without WiFi sense. I think what's going on here is you set a time where you don't want WiFi on and that turns off WiFi and disables any sort of geofencing. Once the time has been reached, the geofencing turns back on and if you are near your designated WiFi locations, it automatically connects you. That of course is pure speculation on my part.

Turn off wifi when i connect to my cars BT system and optionally turn on location. Turn phone BT off when the cars BT turns off..
we ll surely become like the fat people in Wall E

+1 I thought that's what the article was announcing. I would love to have it only turn WiFi on when I am at home, work, church, etc.

That's what WiFi Sense is for. I personally submitted exactly that idea (and how to actually implement it to minimize battery use) a few months back. It looks like either I was thinking just like someone else, or they took me up on my idea.

+520, this is the future. Turned off when you leave your house, turned on when you get to your girlfriends house (in which you'll probabbly use wi-fi), and turned off again when you both leave to the movies? a good idea huh?

Same for me, at work, because I don't have wifi near me, but with it switched on it probably spends all day 'hunting' for it and using up battery power. It's too much of a fiddle to manually turn it off every morning, so this would be quite handy, even if it kills it for 4 hours. Looking forward to all the goodies 8.1 brings! :^)

Agreed! If they won't do geofencing, then give us an 8 hour option, that that's a typical full day of work.

I would prefer "Turn WiFi on when I'm at home". My location isn't typically fixed to a particular schedule.

"Turn Wifi on when I'm at Daniel Rubino's pad", "Turn Wifi off when my flight departs", "Turn data on when my flight arrives" "Turn the phone off when I'm at the girlfriends", "Mute calls during meetings"

So many more possibilities with location, rather that JUST the time.. :) Time is a good one too, but should be based on location & activity.

This is not just a tiny feature, this is huge! WiFi on when your at home after work and at night, and WiFi off as soon as you go to work. Simply brilliant and saves some battery too I presume. WP8.1 ftw!!!

Yep, the geofencing would have been a better choice ( maybe it'll be an option at release, who knows...) 

Surely geofencing is going to use significant battery power? Gps chip is one of the most power hungry bits of silicon in the phone.

go get ready for a podacast thing daniel ....and try to hold back on the leaks if other websites report you also do ..... killing the excitement ....

Leaks are building the excitement instead of killing it. More leaks = more buyers who will now wait till 2nd April instead of upgrading to an iPhone in Feb, March. Means more eyes on WP8.1 = more buzz. It's all good :)

Hey rockstarzzz - I don't know that anyone will defect from i or A just becuase of 8.1. I think it is a vast improvement over the last few years and iterations (I was an early adoper with an HTC HD7 in Nov '10). Quite frankly it seems like much more than a .1 bump. WP will finally be competetive with modern mobile OS'. Getting defections, that's the hard part. Better offer some great phones for pennies on the dollar with ALL major US carriers to earn them. I have seen some friends move from feature/flip phones to WP 8.x via the 520/521, but none care about the OS or the new bells and whistles. They like that the photos upload easily to FB.

Context is something no OS has nailed right now. Imagine having core services activated based on things like location, time of day, speed, handset orientation, ambient light, noise, vibration etc. A big area to explore and diffetentiate devices with :)

It seems that this is the core idea behind Cortana. Look how many new "senses" WP8.1 gets: WiFi Sense, Battery Sense... all those "senses" seems to be connected trough Cortana. Imagine this:

"Cortana, please always turn on WiFi when I'm at home or at work. But turn it off at Quite Hours."

"Cortana, please answere any calls with a text message 'I am busy' when I have an appointment in my work calendar."

"Cortana, please change my status on Yammer to 'out of office" when I leave my work location."

 

They could use all the resources to offer u a more thorough experience but it will last only 2 hours after which u ll be tied down by a charging cable. I turned off double tap to wake to improve battery life and considering turning off glance screen too. Today i was playing online chess while it was being charged.. Phone discharged at 57% per hour and died (lost the game cos of this)

They aren't planning anything ground breaking and even if they were, competition has OS launches after 2nd April anyway so they would easily build whatever features they want on their matured OS. However, competitions knowing these things are coming, will surely alert them of a threat. A real one this time.

Perfect use would be I don't want to connect to my works WiFi when I'm there since I have full LTE bars and it's faster.

Sweet, best use scenario is the commute to work.. No signal on the underground unless you want to pay to use virgin's wi fi network... :p. Couldn't refrain from tapping on wp8.1 article.. Argh lol. Looks like im going to have to stop the notifications from wp central... As i much prefer to find out and experience the wp8.1 goodness myself lol.

Any idea what the "to use WiFi sense, location services must be turned on" at the bottom if the middle screenshot refers to?

It would be great if the WiFi would activate within a preset GPS area, so that when I get home, my 3g automatically switches off, and the WiFi switches on.

the way i have my phone setup now is that it only picks up my wifi when im home. it doesnt search for another other wifi spots, would this be considered an improvement?

Bleh, seems to be useful for those on limited data plans. What about us unlimited people? We would want "WiFi on for next 4 hours".

This is useful but will be more usefull if it can turn on or off the Wi-Fi also with other criteria like appointment in calendar and/or through the geofence feature.
And the same are also for other setting like BT, silent mode, aero mode, ecc...

I do not like my phone doing things automatically especially the WiFi. ATT had an app like that, that caused more issues than it was worth. Disabled! Use NFC tags currently.

sent from my kick a$$ Nexus 5!

Good feature. Although a great addition would be location dependent activation. For example, the phone knows I have wifi at home, so turn of the wifi if I am out of range.

Edit: when i started writing the comment, the thread was empty!

The only problem with this out of range business, is the fact that in some parts of my house I lose WiFi, it may not be more than a minute or two, but then I would have to manually reconnect.

In my case, it's when it goes out of wifi range, the phone keeps clinging to the Access Point, even tho I have full LTE signal. In the end I don't have any internet connection.

Turning off wifi everytime I take a dump in office restroom is frustrating you know.

I wish WP knows when to switch to wifi or LTE.

I hate to be that guy, but some sort of timer would be better :) Don't get me wrong, this is GREAT but what if you could simply tell it to switch itself back on at 4.33 PM just because? :) Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to this feature, ESPECIALLY if they add "when WiFi turns back on, switch mobile data off" checkbox there :)

That would be good. At least I would like more options.  At least add 8 hours and 12 hours to list.  However, I don't think I will use this much.  I have WiFi at work that I actually use, being that I don't have unlimited data.

I hope they expand the snooze options for calendar entrees as well..  15 mins and 30 mins would be nice.

This would be so much more useful if you could choose a specific period of time. I turn WiFi off while I sleep, and I certainly sleep for more than 4 hours and less than 24...

+1

A great feature of Symbian is that I could automate the phone to turn off data and wifi during sleeping hours to save battery, but have the phone turn on data/wifi just before I wake up so that it will have emails ready for me to read when my alarm goes off.

I'm kind of confused on what this does. Why is there WiFi sense, and why would you want to turn it off? Is it because of network caps? More info on this would be great.

To save battery when you don't need data access. I want to automate the phone so that it turns data/wifi off every night while I'm sleeping, but turns on automatically in the morning.

My gym has an ATT WiFi hotspot that is annoyingly slow. So I end up turning off WiFi and then forgetting to turn it back on, so the next morning my podcasts haven't synched. Just happened again last night.

Those have nothing to do with this. This is primarily about battery life and only secondarily about security.

Those two that you list are absolutely NOT valid security measures. Hiding the SSID and MAC authorization are modest measures to keep out non-hackers (hackers know how to get past both of those with minimal effort - you can even look it up on the Internet, then you too can access SSID-hidden access points and know how to spoof a MAC to get past that). This is about turning off a battery-draining feature (Wi-Fi) for a period of time when you know you aren't near a Wi-Fi devices to use Wi-Fi or won't need it for a while.

If you want security with functonal Wi-Fi, WPA2 is the only reasonably secure way to do it. Best is when it's on a RADIUS server, but most of us don't have access to those. WPA2, AES, a renamed router w/o a standard name (b/c there are lookup tables the simplify password guessing on routers with common names), and a good long password is sufficient for casual use. Everything else (WEP, the original WPA, etc.) are easily penetrated, even by casual hackers with minimal skills. SSID and MAC authentication were never considered real security measures, even when they started. They are just screen doors to help control usage by casual users. They are below even WEP.

However, because no wireless security is perfect, turning off Wi-Fi if you're going to a high-risk area is actually the best security of all, so this certainly beats the methods you mention, if the goal is security.

Goal isn't security. The goal is hiding that you're f'n off at work. Pretty obvious when a new WiFi shows up suddenly in an office with a filtered internet.

And no, where the hell you get that you think about MAC authorization... You apparently don't know what it is. If you don't authorize the MAC through the phone, they can't use it regardless if they hack the p/w.

One of us is confused. You understand that turning on Wi-Fi makes your phone a client to an existing Wi-Fi network, it doesn't create one? Do you mean something else?

 

 

MAC authentication doesn't do what you think it does. I can walk into any place that's using MAC authentication, spoof the MAC of a valid device, and voila, I'm on. It also doesn't encrypt anything, meaning any traffic between devices on a MAC authentication system is basically public, unless paired with an encryption system. Of those, only WPA2 is valid.

Lastly, none of this has anything to do with the feature in the article. Wi-Fi Sense has zero to do with not getting caught screwing around at work. All it does is turns off Wi-Fi for a block of time. Either the workplace supports using their Wi-Fi network (in which case you're not screwing around at work by using it), or the don't (in which case turning off the Wi-Fi is irrelevant). So, in neither case is its purpose related to what you said.

They had better support bypassing the PEAP certificate so that I can use my university's wifi.  The over-simplification of Windows Phone in its current form is a real downside in the real world.

I think having a location aware switch for WiFi would be excellent. I want WiFi on at work and home, but almost nowhere else, to preserve my battery. That would be an excellent feature.

I like many others here are so curious about every new feature and each one just makes sense and means so much to the user. I am sometimes tempted to not read anything until i hear more about the launching but everyday i read all the great news online about the #wp8.1 launching, We welcome you with open arms. Come at us!

I like this feature. I turn my wifi off when i go out to save battery and i forget to turn it on when I'm home which wastes my data. It will be useful when it automatically comes on incase i forget.

Now here is a feature I would actually make use of on a daily basis. Have it turn itself off when I leave home for work...and automatically turn on when I return home :)

As others have said I'd prefer based on location. If I'm at home turn on the WiFi. Also I have 3 WiFi networks in my home. My main router has to live way on one end of the house and my bedroom is on the opposite corner. I keep a WAP in my bedroom to give my devices good service there, by my Lumia 925 seems to just choose one at random. Most of the time the 5.8Ghz network with a super weak signal. I can see the signal strength in the WiFi menu. Why can't the phone be smart enough to at least choose the strongest signal?! Anyway im currently manually turning WiFi on and off as come and go from home.

Can't see the point personally.

They've got geo-fencing though, right?

Turn on wi-fi when you get next to where a known network is - home, office, cafe etc. That's smart.

 

 

Since they're adding geofencing to the OS, what I was expecting/hoping for is a "turn on Wifi when I get home" feature that just uses location. Like Windows 7 switches your default printer when you move from work to home

Great for at a bar! There are times when I use the bar's free WiFi, but if the bar gets too busy, all the iPhone users get on it and it slows to a crawl... Rather that turn off WiFi (and forget to reenable when I get home) or forget the WiFi network (and have to reenter the password next time) I could turn it off for just an hour or 2

** *YES *** THE GYM!

When I work out, I stream music - over 3G.

There are free Wi-Fi hot spots that my phone sometimes tries to connect to and interrupts my stream. So whilst I gym, I turn Wi-Fi OFF. Then I am supposed to turn it on later, but often forget.

Being able to turn off for 1 hour is PERFECT!

Awesome feature, defintely something I would use.

Hmm, thats not really useful to me, it eithe needs to be locations based, or time specific. I dont want to have to turn off wifi and set a time for it to turn back on daily. I just want to be able to set it to turn WiFi on everyday between 5pm and 7am, and off any other time.

Preferably though, I would like it to be location based.

The more I hear about 8.1, the more I anticipate. Hopefully, they can add the ability to view animated gifs in text messages. Basics.

This is big security and battery saving feature.good job on this one.would be nice if you can schedule it to turn on the wifi instead of setting hours.

People shouldn't just be leaving their wifi or bluetooth on especially in public places.would be nice if they have something similar for Bluetooth.

Meh, i don't find this feature useful to myself. I had rather have the feature where the Bluetooth switches itself on when we share a file.

Perfect when i leave the office that has wifi and when i get home.   Normally i would just leave it on but i might as well use this function.

 

 

Slightly off-topic, I admit, but has there been any mention of changing the annoying 20 - 30 minutes intervals that limit apps such as various GPS apps, etc.?

I like the idea of WiFi being disabled when I am away from home or the office. Great battery save function and I believe the WiFi maybe at fault for my Bluetooth audio stuttering during playback.

Finally Microsoft are coming out what the user "need", slowly it will become "wants" for us.
[Building foundation first in order to build taller]
Although is slow but never too late. Looking forward. :)

Folks, you're missing the point. This really is not that helpful if you think about it. You still have to go in and touch stuff to enable/disable the feature.

A BETTER way would be turn on or off WiFi based on location. Think about it. You're at work, it turns on WiFi. You're NOT at work, it turns it off. You're at home, it turns on the WiFi. You're not at home, it turns it off.

Even simpler and FAR more useful. (cough) Droid can do this (cough)

I think this would be more useful if you could also schedule times during the day when it would be turned off say for instance you don't want it enabled while your at work or committing.

A step in the right direction, although I am still missing the great way my old BlackBerry solved this. Their was/is an app (or functionality) called Wi-Fi Manager. The little tool automatically turned off WLAN whenever I left the area of the current wireless network. When I came back home or went to other specified places (like my parents house or some good friends who gave me the credentials for their WLANs), it turned on WLAN again based on the mobile phone cell localization. This is really a great feature. Now I have to enable/disable WLAN all the time manually (the shortcut on the home screen doesn't help much). If I forget to turn on WLAN at home, my mobile contract data package is affected with sync tasks or I am not receiving instant messages due to poor connection quality in some rooms. When I forget to turn it off outside my home, it drains the battery in half a day as it scans for wireless networks all the time. My wife using my old BlackBerry does not have any of those problems. I am afraid that such an App is not possible due to the OS restrictions (from what I understand no app is allowed to read cell phone data and/or turn WLAN on/off) and was hoping such a feature could be introduced in WP 8.1 (orperhaps Nokia/now MS can make something up  based on it)? Any hint on this issue is welcome!

Something like the Motorola Atrix HD where you can set the location and when you leave it turns the WiFi off automatically and back on when you get to set location(s).

Not sure if this type of feature will help.

I would like a feature that can swicth on/off Wi-Fi and DataConnection in tandem, which I've to do mostly manually every time. Like when I'm on move DataConnection should turn On and Wi-Fi should Off, and when I'm on Home/Office Wi-Fi should turn On and DataConnection should Off.

~Manoj

its becomes a WP = wifi phones, you cannot far away from home, manage again for data sense always to use data plan from operators, because i always far from home, if wp 8.1 always use wifi for big size data its called homemaker phones not a professional jobs smartphones.

some of us do not have WI-FI at home, infact the majority in our country do not have it at their home, we only get WI-FI at Work or certain places, so i would prefer to have a setting where i can configure the phone to turn it on at chosen places.

 

 

I wish this could be location oriented instead of time oriented. Seeing as how location is usually always on because Cortana. It'd be nice for wifi to turn on and off when coming or going from place to place.