iOS 7 Sports an Awesome Hidden Feature: Multipath TCP


Ever gotten in a car and fired up Siri only to find her (or him) unable to provide you with any kind of response? This is a pretty frequent occurrence for me, and there’s a reason for it: My iPhone likes to hold onto its Wi-Fi connection as long as possible even if it has full signal on AT&T LTE. As I’m driving away from my house trying to have Siri play a song for me, she’s still trying to access my home Wi-Fi network which I’m now hundreds of feet from.

Yes, my iPhone eventually realizes that there’s no longer a Wi-Fi connection there and stops trying, but it takes a while. Rather than just using the LTE connection and dropping the Wi-Fi connection immediately upon finding it unusable, my iPhone keeps trying to connect to a Wi-Fi network that’s no longer there. This may be a minor annoyance, but it’s one of a few scenarios that have been remedied as yesterday in an unannounced  iOS 7 feature called Multipath TCP.

It seems Apple included a bit of a networking surprise in iOS 7. According to a logs captured from an iOS device while connecting to Apple’s Siri servers, the latest version of the mobile operating system includes support for a new technology called multipath TCP. Multipath TCP allows devices to transmit data over multiple connection types at once, such as LTE, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

As 9to5Mac reports this morning, a few logs pulled from an iOS device connecting to Siri show something very interesting: Apple has implemented an orphan technology in iOS 7 which allows a device to seamlessly transmit data over a variety of protocols–such as Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth, or 3G–concurrently. Using Siri should now be seamless even if your Wi-Fi connection drops, and your YouTube videos should continue loading as you move between different connection protocols. Multipath TCP doesn’t require any new hardware so it should theoretically work on older devices.

What other scenarios can you imagine this new iOS 7 technology to be useful?


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