How to handle reachability in iOS

onmyway133 profile image Khoa Pham ・4 min read

Here are what I learn about reachability handling in iOS, aka checking for internet connection. Hope you will find it useful, too.

This post starts with techniques from Objective age, but many of the concepts still hold true

The naive way

Some API you already know in UIKit can be used for checking internet connection. Most of them are synchronous code, so you 'd better call them in a background thread

- (BOOL)connectedToInternet
    NSString *string = [NSString stringWithContentsOfURL:[NSURL URLWithString:@"http://www.google.com"]

    return string ? YES : NO;
- (BOOL)connectedToInternet
   NSURL *url = [NSURL URLWithString:@"http://www.google.com"];
   NSMutableURLRequest *request = [NSMutableURLRequest requestWithURL:url];
   [request setHTTPMethod:@"HEAD"];
   NSHTTPURLResponse *response;
   [NSURLConnection sendSynchronousRequest:request returningResponse:&response error: NULL];

   return ([response statusCode] == 200) ? YES : NO;

Using SystemConfiguration framework

After importing the SystemConfiguration framework, you can use either SCNetworkReachabilityGetFlags to synchronously get the reachability status, or provide a callback to SCNetworkReachabilitySetCallback to be notified about reachability status change.

Note that SCNetworkReachabilityGetFlags is synchronous.

The System Configuration framework reachability API () operates synchronously by default. Thus, seemingly innocuous routines like SCNetworkReachabilityGetFlags can get you killed by the watchdog. If you're using the reachability API, you should use it asynchronously. This involves using the SCNetworkReachabilityScheduleWithRunLoop routine to schedule your reachability queries on the run loop

- (BOOL) isConnectionAvailable
    SCNetworkReachabilityFlags flags;
        BOOL receivedFlags;

        SCNetworkReachabilityRef reachability = SCNetworkReachabilityCreateWithName(CFAllocatorGetDefault(), [@"dipinkrishna.com" UTF8String]);
        receivedFlags = SCNetworkReachabilityGetFlags(reachability, &flags);

        if (!receivedFlags || (flags == 0) )
            return FALSE;
        } else {
        return TRUE;

Note that SCNetworkReachabilitySetCallback notifies only when reachability status changes

Assigns a client to the specified target, which receives callbacks when the reachability of the target changes

Using some libraries

Libraries make our life easier, but to live well with them, you must surely understand them. There are many reachability libraries on Github, but here I want to mention the most popular: Reachability from tonymillion and AFNetworkReachabilityManager (a submodule of AFNetworking) from mattt. Both use SystemConfiguration under the hood.


Some people use Reachability like this

- (void)testInternetConnection
    internetReachableFoo = [Reachability reachabilityWithHostname:@"www.google.com"];

    // Internet is reachable
    internetReachableFoo.reachableBlock = ^(Reachability*reach)
        // Update the UI on the main thread
        dispatch_async(dispatch_get_main_queue(), ^{
            NSLog(@"Yayyy, we have the interwebs!");

    // Internet is not reachable
    internetReachableFoo.unreachableBlock = ^(Reachability*reach)
        // Update the UI on the main thread
        dispatch_async(dispatch_get_main_queue(), ^{
            NSLog(@"Someone broke the internet :(");

    [internetReachableFoo startNotifier];

Looking into the method "startNotifier", you will see that it only uses SCNetworkReachabilitySetCallback and it means this callback will only be called if reachability status changes.

If you want to know the reachability status directly, for example, the reachability status at app launch, you must use the method "isReachable". This method under the hood uses SCNetworkReachabilityGetFlags which is synchronous, and it locks the calling thread.

Reachability has reachabilityForLocalWiFi, which is interesting :)

    struct sockaddr_in localWifiAddress;
    bzero(&localWifiAddress, sizeof(localWifiAddress));
    localWifiAddress.sin_len            = sizeof(localWifiAddress);
    localWifiAddress.sin_family         = AF_INET;
    // IN_LINKLOCALNETNUM is defined in <netinet/in.h> as
    localWifiAddress.sin_addr.s_addr    = htonl(IN_LINKLOCALNETNUM);

    return [self reachabilityWithAddress:&localWifiAddress];


With AFNetworkReachabilityManager, all you have to do is

- (void)trackInternetConnection
    [[AFNetworkReachabilityManager sharedManager] startMonitoring];
    [[AFNetworkReachabilityManager sharedManager] setReachabilityStatusChangeBlock:^(AFNetworkReachabilityStatus status) {
        // Handle the status

What is nice about AFNetworkReachabilityManager is that in the "startMonitoring" method, it both uses SCNetworkReachabilitySetCallback and calls AFNetworkReachabilityStatusForFlags to get the initial reachability status in a background thread, and calls the AFNetworkReachabilityStatusBlock. So in the user 's point of view, all we care about is the AFNetworkReachabilityStatusBlock handler.

AFNetworking has all the features that Reachability has, and its code is well structured. Another cool thing about it is that it is already in your AFNetworking pod. It's hard to find projects without AFNetworking these days

isReachableViaWWAN vs isReachableViaWiFi

Take a look at the method AFNetworkReachabilityStatusForFlags and you will know the story

static AFNetworkReachabilityStatus AFNetworkReachabilityStatusForFlags(SCNetworkReachabilityFlags flags) {
    status = AFNetworkReachabilityStatusUnknown;
    if (isNetworkReachable == NO) {
        status = AFNetworkReachabilityStatusNotReachable;
    else if ((flags & kSCNetworkReachabilityFlagsIsWWAN) != 0) {
        status = AFNetworkReachabilityStatusReachableViaWWAN;
    else {
        status = AFNetworkReachabilityStatusReachableViaWiFi;

    return status;

isReachableViaWWAN is supposed to be for iOS Device

How to use AFNetworkReachabilityManager

I've asked a question here Issue 2262, you should take a look at it

The safe way is not to use the sharedManager, but use managerForDomain

AFNetworkReachabilityManager *afReachability = [AFNetworkReachabilityManager managerForDomain:@"www.google.com"];
    [afReachability setReachabilityStatusChangeBlock:^(AFNetworkReachabilityStatus status) {
        if (status < AFNetworkReachabilityStatusReachableViaWWAN) {
            [FTGAlertView showMessage:@"No internet connection"];

    [afReachability startMonitoring];

You should read the question 7 and 8 in the Reference below to know more about SCNetworkReachabilityCreateWithName vs SCNetworkReachabilityCreateWithAddress, and about the zero address


In Swift, there is this popular Reachability.swift to check for network reachability status


Sometimes, a more robust way is just to ping certain servers, that how's Connectivy works

Also, read more Solving the Captive Portal Problem on iOS

In order to detect that it has connected to a Wi-Fi network with a captive portal, iOS contacts a number of endpoints hosted by Apple — an example being https://www.apple.com/library/test/success.html. Each endpoint hosts a small HTML page of the form:

Read more

  1. Reachability
  2. AFNetworkReachabilityManager
  3. How to check for internet connection synchronously?
  4. iOS: Check whether internet connection is available
  5. Check if Active Internet Connection Exists on iOS Device
  6. Technical Q&A QA1693 Synchronous Networking On The Main Thread
  7. How to check for network reachability on iOS in a non-blocking manner?
  8. understanding INADDR_ANY for socket programming - c

Original post https://github.com/onmyway133/blog/issues/209

Posted on by:

onmyway133 profile

Khoa Pham


My apps https://onmyway133.com/apps/


markdown guide