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It is one of the autofocus schemes Canon uses. If you did get the manual, P121 discusses how to set the size.
They do not officially define it other than as one of the auto focus modes between "face detect" and "Center" focus. Center focus is just that- a single focus beam down the center of the lens. The AiAF is a larger target area, and essntially each of the 9 blocks you see when you set your camera is a location where a focus beam will be.
It is a part of the fuzzy logic of the camera that uses the light metering strategies as the framework for the focusing strategies for lack of a better description. So maybe a better pnemonic would be "Activity in Auto Focus."
Hi Becky, I know this may sound like a stupid Q but I gotta ask anyway. Is it on auto focus? Or maybe you tripped the select lever(very easy to do, due to the lever being right in the area) down to M.
The other reason is you may have too fine of a background interfereing with the area of focus where the lens just simply 'hunts" back and forth. If not try using manual and see if it focuses. If it does then there is probably a simpl reason why you're having this problem.
Usually this is a lens fault as the focusing gear is all in the lens. Clicking sounds as if a rear pinion has cracked. It's not uncomon in the 'prosumer' level lenses where plastic gears are used a lot.
It's just possible the fault is which the auto-manual switch. This usually has a mechanical clutch coupled to it which physically disconnects the gearbox from the focusing ring, as well as operating a switch to tell the camera to turn off the AF system.