For five years, researchers have toiled over an obscure bit of fundamental internet infrastructure that promises to make the connections to our mobile devices faster and more reliable than ever, and if you’ve already downloaded Apple’s iOS 7 to your iPhone or iPad, you could be using it already.
It’s called multi-path TCP, and here’s why it matters and how it works: At present, if your phone or tablet is connected to Wi-Fi and a cellular network at the same time, it can only use one or the other connection to transmit data. But what if your Wi-Fi connection or your 3G connection drops? Whatever data was being transmitted—data for an app, a webpage, an iMessage—will fail to arrive, and you have to try again, usually after getting a frustrating error message or a blank page. Just as importantly, if one of your connections to the internet slows down, or speeds up, your phone has no ability to use its other connections to its advantage, leading to a poorer and slower experience overall.
Makes sense: the pipe shouldn’t matter, the connection should.