I have noticed that the spinning network activity indicator doesn't always show up when I know it's using the network. For example, I have my iPhone SE and my iPad 2 both downloading iOS 9.3.2 right now. The icon shows on the iPad but not on the iPhone. And then when I start typing a question in Stack Exchange, the phone does show the network being used as it searches similar questions but when the search is done, the icon goes away even though the phone is still downloading over WiFi. Searching for tags, though, it does not show the indicator. What is the cause?

  • If you mean the two semi-circular arrows that spin, that's sync/backup activity, not network activity. – Tetsujin May 17 '16 at 6:01
  • @Tetsujin I don't mean that. I mean the little icon next to the wifi icon that looks like a loading circle. – kal-al May 17 '16 at 6:48
  • This one? That's the sync icon. There is no 'network busy' icon, as far as I'm aware. – Tetsujin May 17 '16 at 6:50
  • @Tetsujin No. If you don't know what I'm talking about try looking up iPhone network activity icon. – kal-al May 17 '16 at 6:51

Bear in mind that the visibility of Network Activity Indicator is managed by the App's Developer and not the System detecting a connection.

That being said, there are numerous reasons for this behaviours you're experiencing. Perhaps the Apps were coded to react differently to different actions, or they wrongly hide the Network Activity Indicator despite the fact a connection is being made.

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  • That may explain things. It still confuses me though why even something like apps updating in the background might or might not show the network activity icon from the home screen. It would seem like it would make much more sense for Apple to make it a system-level indicator, maybe an up arrow if something is uploading and a down if downloading, that would be a lot more useful than some of the times knowing that something is happening. – kal-al May 17 '16 at 17:30

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