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Apple’s iOS9 already driving IPv6 uptake

Wed 23 Sep 2015

iOS9 IPv6

The September 16th release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS9, introduced support for the IPv6 connection protocol, and its introduction has already begun to increase usage.

A blog post from CDN provider CloudFlare follows the uptake of iOS9 from the point that the official release overtook the beta release through to relatively mature adoption by September 21st. CloudFlare’s graph shows a 1.07 increase in IPv6 requests under iOS9:

cloudflare-ipv6-requests-ios9

The current popular implementation of IPv4 permits a maximum of 4.3 billion total IP addresses within that protocol space – billions less than it’s estimated will be needed to connect devices and networks looking to foster the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT).

IPv4 addresses reached full allotment on February 1st 2011, with residual reflux and resale maintaining availability, for now. Intel estimates that 200 billion devices in the IoT space will be on networks in 2020, though not all will need IP addresses of any kind, with the development of mesh networks utilising diverse and sometimes innovative protocols. But in any case, a shortfall is certain.

Considering that the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) ratified the IPv6 protocol 17 years ago, users might be surprised how laggard IPv6 support is across providers and networks in spite of the crisis. A test on my own internet connection found it unsupported, and those looking to host network projects such as app APIs need to be aware of the availability of the protocol across hosting providers, as well as taking into account the availability of IPv6 to end-users in varying regions and locales.

IPv6 provides a significantly higher ceiling on possible addresses, namely 340,282,366,920,938,463,374,607,432,768,211,456. Those comforted by the high figures still retain the semi-mythical 1970s Bill Gates quote: “No one will need more than 637kB of memory for a personal computer.”

IPv6 needed this boost from iOS9 – the reserve of IPv4 addresses is so depleted that the American Registry for Internet Numbers maintains an apocalyptic counter of remaining IPv4 availability. When Apple add or remove a port or protocol such as a floppy drive, a disk drive or Adobe Flash support from its mainstream tech output, worlds change: the loss of Flash from the west’s most popular mainstream mobile ecostructure is driving innovation in HTML5, which like IPv6 was finding a great deal of inertial resistance in replacing its whiskery predecessor; and the company’s gradual abandonment of disc drives – before Blu-ray had a chance to reach a ‘DVD-level’ of consumer saturation – can be argued to have made a major contribution to cloud adoption and the inception of the streaming age.

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