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With the iPhone and iPod touch's ability to let you access your email and surf websites one of the first things you'll most likely want to do with your device is to get online. Both the iPhone and the iPod touch can connect to WiFi networks whether they're your home networks or public networks at coffee shops or airports. Although the iPhone can also get online via your service provider cellular network connecting to a broadband connection over WiFi is going to be a much faster Internet experience in most cases and data transferred via WiFi doesn't count against your cellular data plan. Let's take a look at how to turn on your iPhone or iPod touch's WiFi capability.
Tap the Settings icon to open your System settings. Then tap WiFi. First, make sure WiFi is turned on. Under Choose a Network you'll see a list of all the WiFi networks your phone or iPod detects along with an indicator of how strong each one's signal is and whether the network is open or requires a password. Password protected WiFi networks have a lock icon next to them. You generally won't find too many non-password protected WiFi networks these days as most people have figured out that leaving their networks open can expose them to attacks or just neighbors leeching off their Internet connection's bandwidth.
Tap the network you want to connect to. If a password is required, enter it here, and then tap Join. You'll see a check mark appear next to the network you've connected to and that's pretty much all there is to connecting to a WiFi network. Your iPhone or iPod touch will now remember this network so the next time you're within its range, it will connect automatically without you having to select it and enter the password again. Because being connected to a WiFi network consumes battery power, the iPhone and iPod touch don't remain constantly connected. So you don't have to worry about WiFi eating up your battery while you're looking at photos or listening to music.
It's when you start an app that requires an Internet connection, like the Safari web browser or mail that your device will then attempt to reconnect to the WiFi network. First, the iPhone or iPod touch will look for a nearby WiFi network. If it detects one you've connected to in the past, it will connect with no prompting from you. How it behaves when it doesn't detect a known network depends on how you have a particular option set. Let's go back to our WiFi settings. Now if your iPhone detects any new WiFi networks you've never connected to and you have Ask to Join Networks turned on, you'll see a message pop up with a list of the networks it's found and it will ask if you want to connect to any of them.
If you leave Ask to Join Networks switched off, your device won't ask you to connect to any unknown networks and you'll have to search for them manually here in WiFi settings. You'll know you're connected to a WiFi network when you see the WiFi icon at the top of your screen. Now the iPod touch can only connect to the Internet over WiFi and has no other connection options. If the iPhone fails to find a WiFi signal or if you decline to connect to any that it finds, it will then connect to the Internet via your service provider's cellular network. In those cases you'll see an icon like 4G or LTE up here to let you know which network type you're connected to.
As you can see connecting to a WiFi network is pretty simple, but there are a lot of other important things to know about how the iPhone and iPod touch deal with WiFi networks. So be sure to check out the movie on WiFi in the chapter called Important Settings. In that movie I go over some crucial information that will help you troubleshoot when you inevitably run into problems with connecting to a WiFi network, but for now that's the basics of connecting to a network from your iPhone or iPod touch.
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