Apple promises fix for iPad Wi-Fi problems

Users hope update addresses weak signals, dropped connections, slow speeds

Apple will issue a fix to answer complaints from iPad owners of weak wireless signals, dropped connections and slow surfing speeds, the company said in a recently-published support document.

But some users were skeptical that a patch would solve their problems.

"A very small number of iPad users have experienced issues with Wi-Fi connectivity," Apple said in a support advisory updated last Thursday. "Apple will also address remaining Wi-Fi connectivity issues with a future iPad software update."

The note was the first official word from the company that it would address grievances about connecting and staying connected with home and public wireless networks.

Just days after Apple started selling the Wi-Fi-only iPad on April 3, buyers began reporting problems acquiring a wireless connection, keeping that connection alive or browsing the Internet at customary speeds. An earlier version of the support document had simply offered several workarounds, including one suggesting that users modify settings on their wireless routers.

The updated document included that workaround, as well as others ranging from renewing the IP address to updating their router's firmware.

Apple did not specify a delivery date for the iPad update, not a surprise since the company does not forewarn users of impending fixes, but simply posts them on its Web site and adds them to its update mechanism. Like the iPhone , the iPad will need to be connected to a Mac or Windows computer running iTunes to receive updates.

One user noticed the lack of a timetable. "There's no indication anywhere when it will be released. Could be days, weeks or even months away. Don't hold your breath," said someone going by FrankPalmer on an Apple support forum thread about the promised update.

Others were doubtful that a software update could fix the problem, what with Apple's earlier advice to modify router settings, or other users' recommendations to get a new wireless router. "We'll see what a software update does; hopefully that takes care of these issues," said "mva5580" today on the same thread. "But it's pretty obvious that there is something wrong inside the hardware and 'Buy a new router' should not have to be the solution."

Although Apple has committed to upgrading its mobile operating system this summer for iPhones and iPod Touches, it said previously that the iPhone 4 OS update won't be available to iPad users until this fall.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld . Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

Read more about wireless networking in Computerworld's Wireless Networking Knowledge Center.

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Gregg Keizer

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