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New iPhones may be using Multipath TCP for Siri


NetworkWorld is reporting that Apple's iOS 7 may be the first instance of large-scale use of a new type of Internet protocol called multipath TCP, or MPTCP. Just what is MPTCP -- and what does it do -- you may ask? Here's what NetworkWorld's John Cox says:

Researchers have been working for years on creating "disruption tolerant" networks, which can automatically work around failures, sometimes multiple failures, and adapt to changing network conditions. Today TCP is a single path protocol: if that path should fail for any reason, the session ends, and the connection has to be re-established.

By contrast, MCTCP is a TCP extension that enables the simultaneous use of several IP addresses or interfaces. Existing applications – completely unmodified -- see what appears to be a standard TCP interface. But under the covers, MPTCP is spreading the connection's data across several subflows, sending it over the least congested paths.

The benefits of this include improved network utilization, higher throughput, and greater resiliency by letting the network automatically and smoothly react to path failures.

Though MPTCP support has not been acknowledged by Apple, professor Olivier Bonaventure with the IP Networking Lab in Belgium found evidence that Apple is indeed using the latest protocol in Siri in iOS 7. Such a use is a no-brainer for Apple's personal digital assistant software. After all, the better connections Siri can make -- and keep -- enable it to work and return results faster, improving every iPhone owner's user experience.

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