iOS 9 Adds Continuity Over Cellular Networks, But Will ‘Big 3’ Support It?

You know what’s greater than initiating and receiving calls on devices (iPad, Watch, or Mac) other than your iPhone even in situations when the handset is in another room? The ability to do so even if you have left your iPhone at home. That’s exactly what will happen if Apple has the right wireless partner, and in this case, it seems to be T-Mobile in the US (via The Verge).

You may recall that Apple introduced Continuity, one of the best features we have gotten accustomed to and love. What this means is that your OS X Yosemite and iOS devices can work together, and you can answer phone calls from your iPad or Mac if your iPhone and the aforementioned devices — signed in with the same Apple ID — are in the same network.

But it can be much better. As the latest screenshots from iOS 9 beta 1 reveal, Apple has taken this neat feature one step further. But it needs wireless carriers to play its game. With iOS 9, Apple aims to extend continuity through cellular networks.

This may sound like a minor change, but it is huge: imagine that you accidentally leave your iPhone at home, but you have your iPad or Mac in front of you. The best thing of all is that you can answer the call even so.


T-Mobile is the one and only carrier in the world to offer this neat feature (US-only), and it wants the world to know that. It is likely to see other carriers jumping on this opportunity Apple offers.

There is one “issue,” though: it seems like you need WiFi calling enabled in order to use this feature. In the US, only T-Mobile and Sprint offer WiFi calling. AT&T and Verizon confirmed plans to offer it but no public launch date yet. Sometime in 2015 is vague enough.

As for Canadians, the question remains wide open: will any of the incumbents support it on iOS? The only carrier saying that it will launch WiFi calling was Rogers (a spokesperson confirmed that last October), but it was careful enough not to give any launch estimate. So promises are good, but facts are better.

Image credit: 9to5Mac

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  • It’s Me

    I imagine our carriers will not support this. It has the potential to cut into roaming revenue. For example, you are out of country and have your Mac or iPad with you and you iPhone, all on wifi. A call comes in and you answer it on your iPad or Mac. No roaming.

    Even if they wanted to, our carrier don’t have the technoligical depth of expertise to support this. It’s been over a year since the announced support and Rogers still can get iOS wifi calling to work. Unless Apple sends up engineers to hold their hands our carrier won’t be able to figure this out.

  • Ty

    No, the iphone would have to be left home in Canada. “Cellular”.

  • raslucas

    It’s really more like SkypeOut eh? Being able to make VoIP calls with your number as the caller ID? The difference seems to be that Apple is allowing the carriers to control the backend. Apple just needs to make sure that they figure out the 911 emergency system and it should be possible in Canada. I would imagine however that it would take Wind to support this as a competitive advantage before Rogers/Belus will touch it.

  • SV650

    Telus is already testing a VoIP solution, so I don’t think it is a big leap for them to accept this as a option for callers. With Telus Extend, you can answer calls to your phone number on your Wifi connected phone, tablet or laptop just about anywhere you are able to find a hotspot. While it currently allows you to answer and make calls from just about anywhere, you can only make calls to North American numbers.

  • It’s Me

    Yup. And Rogers has had RON for a few years now too. But needing a separate app is not the same as being integrated into the OS.

  • It’s Me

    Possibly. That would be an implementation detail. It’s effectively just routing to another destination, similar to google voice or fongo or Rogers one number. I don’t think it would be a technical limitation. It could be so as a concession to the carriers. Just like when Apple blocked FaceTime over cellular as a concession to carriers or made tethering a carrier controlled toggle.

    Really, the big take away is that it works without the iPhone and other device having to be on the same network. That’s huge. A restriction to the iPhone having to also remain on the carrier network would be something they have to explicitly design into the service.

  • Stefan

    I don’t think wind wil ever support It. Whey still do not support iMessage….

  • raslucas

    This is incorrect. iMessage uses data and is unrelated to the carrier.
    As far as wind supporting that feature, I’m not necessarily saying I think it would happen, I’m explaining how I think it would go down if it ever happened.

  • hub2

    Actually iMessage IS dependent on the carrier.

    Earlier this week I tried helping a friend get iMessage on an iPhone 6 working on Wind. There’s a fairly technical workaround which requires saving a baseband log file to a computer and copying some SMS data to a website that somehow completes the setup that’s normally transparent to the user.

    The workaround worked for a few hours and then iMessage stopped working again.

    Between that and the terrible 3G data speed (and she lives on the top floor of a downtown highrise with nothing else that height to interfere with a signal), she had to switch to Telus the next day.

  • Adam

    iMessage is not dependent on the carrier, since it can be used on non-cellular devices. Tying iMessage to your telephone number, on the other hand, may require some carrier involvement. But if you configure iMessage using only your Apple ID, then that part is not required.

  • hub2

    The tie-in with the telephone number is how I suspect the majority of people are using iMessage, though, so although technically true that iMessage can be used without a phone number, it’s a subtly that doesn’t matter to most people, and especially not to those who haven’t gotten iMessage working on Wind.

    I have a couple dozen contacts who I can use iMessage with, all are through their phone numbers.

  • raslucas

    Hey, fair enough though. I didn’t know about this bug. (I’d like to think I keep myself up to date on this stuff so this actually surprised me) It’s strange and doesn’t seem to be a purposeful error, or something that Wind needed to do anything special to have work. Having said that I’m surprised Wind haven’t figured out how to fix it. In the case of Apple fixing this. Canada’s smallest carrier that doesn’t even sell iPhones is small potatoes.

  • raslucas

    What we are saying I think is that I seriously doubt that the service is suggesting that the Mac would be streaming the call over the Internet to your phone and through the cellular network. That would have latency. I am then assuming that Apple doesn’t want to actually manage the “circuit switching” and happily leave that to the carriers who already have that stuff in place. This is different from FaceTime audio because it needs to actually go through the phone system.

  • Stefan

    Are you using Wind? Because I offer a service for Wind iPhone users that actually activates iMessage. Therefore I know for a fact that iMessage is not supported by Wind.