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Apple Acknowledges iPad Wi-Fi Issues, Sort Of

As Glenn wrote in “Some iPad Users Suffer Wi-Fi Woes” (6 April 2010), some iPad users (including me!) have experienced problems with Wi-Fi connectivity. These problems generally revolve around unexpectedly poor Wi-Fi signal strength, frequent Wi-Fi network dropoffs, widely varying network throughput, and repeated requests for Wi-Fi network passwords for remembered networks.

Apple has quietly updated a Knowledge Base article about issues that iPads have when connecting to Wi-Fi networks. Initially, the article offered only basic suggestions, like making sure your Wi-Fi router’s firmware was up to date, and using WPA or WPA2 instead of WEP. While I’m sure using current firmware and modern encryption approaches are a good idea, they really weren’t related to most of the problems.

In the updated article, Apple now suggests that having the screen brightness at its lowest setting could be related, which sounds truly weird. However, commenter Eugen notes that common methods of dimming LEDs could result in oscillations that could interfere with other radiation, such as Wi-Fi signals. And I’ve heard from a reader that raising the screen brightness on his iPad did indeed solve his particular Wi-Fi connection problem.

Apple has also lumped the iPad DHCP flaw into this article about Wi-Fi connectivity issues, even though the two problems are almost certainly unrelated (see “Princeton University Identifies iPad DHCP Flaw,” 15 April 2010). Apple suggests renewing the DHCP lease manually, or toggling Wi-Fi off and on again, both of which should help if the iPad itself isn’t working properly, but which won’t solve the general problem of duplicate IP addresses for other devices. Princeton’s workaround is more general, and should prevent the problem from occurring.

In fact, the most heartening change to the Knowledge Base article is this sentence at the top.

"Apple will also address remaining Wi-Fi connectivity issues with a future iPad software update."

That’s exactly what we thought would be necessary, and here’s hoping that we see iPhone OS 3.2.1 for the iPad soon, complete with fixes for both the Wi-Fi connectivity problems and the DHCP flaw.

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