iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

Summary: Apple's iOS contains several 'bugs' which are hampering the performance of web apps, according to an exclusive report by the The Register. But are they 'bugs' or a 'feature'?

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Apple's iOS contains several 'bugs' which are hampering the performance of web apps, according to an exclusive report by the The Register. But are they 'bugs' or a 'feature'?

Either way, as The Register points out, it creates an uneven playing field that gives native apps (the ones where Apple gets to keep 30% of the list price) an advantage over web apps (where Apple gets $0).

It's unclear whether these are accidental bugs or issues consciously introduced by Apple. But the end result is that, at least in some ways, the iOS platform makes it harder for web apps to replace native applications distributed through the Apple App Store, where the company takes a 30 per cent cut of all applications sold. Whereas native apps can only run on Apple's operating system, web apps – built with standard web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – can potentially run on any device.

The first issue comes down to the fact that later iOS releases have two JavaScript engines - a newer, faster one called Nitro that Safari can use, and an older, slower engine that web apps, such as those used by Google and Kazaa, have access to. A good demonstration of this is running the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark both from the browser and as a web app. It takes the web app 2.6 times longer to complete the test.

Note: I can confirmed that this discrepancy between SunSpider results exists.

Another disadvantage facing web apps is that they cannot take advantage of HTML 5 caching, so the can't be run when not connected to the Internet.

Finally, web apps are still stuck with the slower 'synchronous mode' rendering while native apps get to use 'asynchronous mode' rendering.

Is this a 'bug' or a 'feature' that Apple uses to make native apps more attractive? I'm reserving judgment ... if it's fixed in a future release of iOS then it was a bug, if not, well ...

[poll id="608"]

Topics: Apple, Cloud, Hardware, Mobile OS, Operating Systems

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46 comments
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  • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

    Flash killed - check
    HTML5 slowed down - check
    Money in the bank - check.
    tatiGmail
    • HTML5 got faster -- check the tests. Do not confuse it with Web2.0 software

      @tatiGmail: platform.

      However, as to whether off-line/engine things are "feature" or not, lets see for iOS update.
      DDERSSS
    • only web apps/pages running fullscreen are affected..

      @tatiGmail... if they run in Safari proper i.e. with nav bar etc and not rendered with the underlying webkit engine... which looks like it doesn't have the Nitro java script engine update like safari, they run just as fast.

      go to sunspider directly and test for yourself there is no difference in speed if your run in safari..

      http://www.webkit.org/perf/sunspider/sunspider.html

      if you use the link provided by The Register when you add the home screen icon, sunspider will launch full screen and you will see the speed differential..

      i think at worst this could be Apple forcing "web" apps to look more like the web pages they are.. at best it's just a bug or maybe them trying to differentiate Safari from the slew of webkit browsers on the platform that likely won't see the nitro update either..
      doctorSpoc
    • story updated...

      @tatiGmail..

      "Updated: This story has been updated to make it clear that the speed difference occurs when home screen apps are launched into full-screen mode."

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/15/apple_ios_throttles_web_apps_on_home_screen/page2.html
      doctorSpoc
      • Welll, crud. There goes the big conspiracy theory

        that Apple is driving people to the app store so Apple can make about $300 million a year. Because that's such a huge amount of money compared to the 15 BILLION it makes selling hardware.
        fr_gough
      • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

        @frgough

        They don't make $15 billion selling hardware. Their REVENUE is $15 billion on hardware. Don't get me wrong. That hardware is often garbage, so much of that $15 billion is profit. The $300 million a. drives hardware sales, and b. probably doesn't comprise a $3 million investment, so it's getting a 10,000% return. They care, and someone should be getting a bonus.
        tkejlboom
    • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

      @tatiGmail

      Can I also add.

      Don't implement HTML autoplay tags for audio and video to prevent any interactive multimedia web apps.
      tonymcs1
      • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

        @tonymcs@...
        1) That does not prevent interactive multimedia apps. You would understand this if you were the competent webdev you claim to be.
        2) autoplay is the scourge of the web.
        3) How is that IE9 legacy page rendering going for you?
        DeusXMachina
    • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

      @tatiGmail
      Flash is not even close to getting killed, or do you live in iOS world?
      H3llb0und
  • Consciously introduced by Apple.

    "It aint done till web apps don't run"
    Will Farrell
    • Cows ain't coming home

      @Will Farrell<br>Then it ain't done.
      DeusXMachina
  • Grammar

    I [can confirm|have confirmed] that this discrepancy between SunSpider results exists.
    yonian
  • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

    Did not realize that - things like this make alternative OS's look more and more attractive.

    Will have to check out.
    Thx!!
    ;)
    rhonin
    • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

      @zenwalker

      Alternative OS's don't even have this feature i.e. WebbApps running full screen.

      So I guess the alternatives don't look like anything really.
      alsobannedfromzdnet
      • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

        @alsobannedfromzdnet

        where did you get this information? I guess by alternative Oses you were excluding android right? or any other os with a fully functioning web browser?

        or is the term "WebbApps" some specific trademark technology that no other OS would have any real need to use in the first place.

        If we are referring to web applications...

        Last I checked a vast majority of all web apps were flash based meaning newer apple devices don't support them at all...
        jebabcock
      • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

        @jebabcock
        No. No Web apps are flash-based. Web apps are HTML5.
        As to the rest, check your facts and your base knowledge.
        DeusXMachina
      • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

        @alsobannedfromzdnet
        Maemo has this since the beginning of time...
        Android has it, and I think all other decent mobile OSs have that too.
        H3llb0und
      • Thanks for playing

        @ H3llb0und

        Um, no it can't. You are misinformed.
        DeusXMachina
  • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

    Exactly. Why do you think Apple purposefully makes iTunes run like crap on Windows PC's? So they can make commercials that say "PC's are slow!" and that other ****.<br><br>Here's a good answer to the problem though: don't buy an iPad!
    Droid101
    • RE: iOS 'web app performance issue' - Bug or feature?

      @Droid101
      LoL. :D
      Ram U