Apple tells app devs to use IPv6 as it's 1.4 times faster than IPv4

Company also urges app devs to start using newer web tech like HTTP/2 and TLS 1.3, citing similar performance and speed improvements.

Apple is encouraging developers to prioritize newer web technologies inside their iOS and macOS applications.

In a short technical presentation at the WWDC 2020 conference last week, Apple shared some internal statistics in the hope of convincing app developers to adopt new web technologies and protocols, such as IPv6, HTTP/2, TLS 1.3, and Multipatch TCP.

IPv6

One of the newer technologies that Apple would like developers to implement is IPv6, the next iteration of the IP protocol, set to replace the older IPv4 version.

"Apple platforms have had native IPv6 support for a number of years, including support for IPv6-only networks," said Jiten Mehta, Internet Technologies Engineer at Apple.

"There has been a growing trend of IPv6 usage on the internet. If we look at the last month of connections made worldwide by Apple devices, we see that IPv6 now accounts for 26% of all connections made," Mehta added. "20% of the time, the connection could have used IPv6, but the server didn't have it enabled.

"And when IPv6 is in use, the median connection setup is 1.4 times faster than IPv4. This is primarily due to reduced NAT usage and improved routing."

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HTTP/2

Another technology that Apple is trying to get app developers to adopt is HTTP/2, the current and latest version of HTTP, the protocol used to load websites on the internet.

Mehta said that in the last month, around 79% of all web pages loaded in Safari were loaded via an HTTP/2 connection, which were usually 1.8 times faster to load than the older HTTP/1.1 connections.

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Apple says that writing apps that work on top of IPv6 and HTTP/2 is now easier than ever. All that app developers have to do is to use the latest versions of the company's networking APIs -- such as URLSession and Network.framework -- which will guarantee the apps will work on IPv6 and HTTP/2 by default, with fallbacks to older protocols, when needed.

Furthermore, Apple is also looking ahead. The company will also add experimental support in macOS 11 and iOS 14 -- set to be released this fall -- for HTTP/3, the next major version of the HTTP protocol, currently undergoing standardization at the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force).

TLS 1.3 support is, however, disabled by default, and is only included on Apple devices for experimental purposes -- with users/app devs being required to flip a switch for it to work.

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TLS 1.3

In addition, Mehta also reported good news on the security front, where the newer TLS 1.3 security protocol has been widely deployed after the company added support for it in iOS 13.4 (November 2019).

Mehta said that over the past month, 49% of all HTTPS network connections on modern Apple devices were running TLS 1.3, where HTTPS connections were being established 1.3 times faster than connections handled via the older TLS 1.2.

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Multipath TCP

And the final network technology that Apple hopes app developers chose to support is Multipath TCP, an extension of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) that allows connections to use multiple network paths to load the same data.

Mehta said Apple uses this technology to allow apps to continue working without glitches even as users switch their internet network.

At Apple, Mehta said the company has had "great success" using this new technology for Apple Music, where the company reported a 13% reduction in stream stalls and a 22% reduction in stream stall duration, as the Apple Music service was able to function without re-starting downloads when users changed networks.

Last week, at the same WWDC 2020 conference, Apple also announced full support for encrypted DNS on iOS and macOS, with plans to support DNS-over-HTTPS and DNS-over-TLS starting macOS 11 and iOS 14.