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Cloudflare Helps Developers Accelerate Mobile Traffic

Of all the performance factors mobile app developers need to worry about, network throughput is among the hardest to tackle, something Cloudflare seeks to address with new traffic acceleration technology.

The company, which provides a variety of Web/networking performance and security services, today (Dec. 13) announced that Traffic Acceleration was being added to its Cloudflare Mobile SDK.

The company in March announced the free Mobile SDK to help Android and iOS developers visualize and understand their mobile app's network utilization.

"Apps are dependent on network connectivity to deliver their app’s user experiences, but developers have limited visibility into how network connectivity is impacting app performance," the company said. "Integrating the Mobile SDK allows developers to measure and improve the speed of their app’s network interactions."

Now, developers can apply to get early access to the Traffic Acceleration functionality infused into the SDK that basically provides a replacement for the commonly used Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), a foundational Internet networking protocol for exchanging data.

While this blog post provides many technical details about Traffic Acceleration, which replaces TCP with a customized User Datagram Protocol (UDP) transport protocol, the result is said to be reduced latency, increased throughput and improved user experiences.

Cloudflare said replacing TCP is necessary because its parameters that can be tweaked to provide better performance reside in the kernel and can't be accessed by developers.

"Cloudflare Mobile SDK aims to solve this problem by shipping a replacement transport protocol implemented on top of UDP, which the SDK can speak with the Cloudflare edge," the company said. That approach reportedly provides three advantages:

  • Easier access to parameters controlling things like congestion control
  • Integration with the Cloudflare edge to allow for extremely efficient transmission of data
  • Optimization of the protocol from the ground up for transmission of data over mobile networks

The company said the approach has already resulted in significant reductions in latency, throughput boosts and reductions in TCP-related timeouts, with one customer reporting a 7 percent decrease in network response time and a 13.8 percent drop in network timeouts in its iOS app.

Furthermore, more functionality is planned beyond the mobile traffic acceleration, specifically to help developers determine whether an app "user" is actually a human and not some bot automatically interacting with APIs to scrape data, stuff credentials and so on.

Developers interested in applying for early access to Traffic Acceleration are advised to contact the company via e-mail.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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