Thousands of developers use CloudFlare to accelerate and secure the backend of their mobile applications and websites. This week is Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), where thousands of Apple developers come to San Francisco to talk, learn and share best practices for developing software for Apple platforms. New announcements from Apple this week make CloudFlare an even more obvious choice for application developers.
New operating systems, new application requirements
The flagship announcement of WWDC 2015 was a new version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 9, to be released in September with a developer preview available now. They also announced a new Mac operating system, OS X El Capitan, launching in the fall. Apple has a track record of developing and supporting technologies that enhance user privacy and security with iMessage and Facetime and the trend is continuing with these new operating systems. In both cases, Apple is requiring application developers to make use of two network technologies that CloudFlare is big fan of: HTTPS and IPv6.
- For iOS 9 and El Capitan, all applications submitted to the iOS and Mac App Stores must work over IPv6. In previous versions, applications were allowed that only worked with IPv4.
Because IPv6 support is so critical to ensuring your applications work across the world for every customer, we are making it an AppStore submission requirement, starting with iOS 9.
- By default, all network connections in third party applications compiled for on iOS 9 and El Capitan use a new feature called App Transport Security. This feature forces the application to connect to backend APIs and the web via HTTPS. Plain unencrypted HTTP requests are disallowed unless the developer specifically modifies a configuration file to allow it.
From the iOS 9 developer documentation:
If you're developing a new app, you should use HTTPS exclusively. If you have an existing app, you should use HTTPS as much as you can right now, and create a plan for migrating the rest of your app as soon as possible.
What does this mean for application developers? If your application has a web backend component, you will need to update the backend to support these protocols. This can be difficult to do since not all hosting providers support IPv6, and HTTPS certificates can be tricky to obtain and difficult to configure correctly, not to mention maintain.
Free and automatic IPv6 and SSL
One of the best things CloudFlare does well is to take modern network protocols and make them affordable (or free) and accessible to everyone. Every CloudFlare-backed website and API backend has support for both IPv6 and HTTPS automatically, and with no configuration necessary.
CloudFlare provides its Automatic IPv6 Gateway for free to all CloudFlare users. This makes any content or API required by an Apple iOS app instantly available using IPv4 and IPv6 independent of the inability of your hosting provider to supply IPv6 support. More information about CloudFlare’s IPv6 support can be found here.
Not only does CloudFlare help keep application service components up to date with the latest Apple requirements, it provides the performance benefits of a globally distributed network and protection against malicious attacks.
If you’re an iOS developer looking to upgrade your application backend to meet Apple’s new requirements, you can sign up for CloudFlare here.
To verify that IPv6 is enabled, open your DNS settings and ensure that the IPv6 toggle is on:
CloudFlare offers HTTPS to the backend, so if you already have HTTPS, you can keep full end-to-end encryption with CloudFlare’s Strict SSL mode. If your backend doesn’t support HTTPS, you can select the Flexible mode to encrypt the communication between your App and CloudFlare. These setting are available in your Crypto settings:
CloudFlare and iOS 9 were made for each other.
P.S.: We provide the same service to Android apps as well.