Safari bests rival mobile browsers on Fixya's latest report

Fixya has analyzed 61,582 "problem impressions" from users of its problem-fixing website and come up with usability ratings for the major mobile browsers, and the most complained-about problems
Written by Jack Schofield, Contributor

Apple's Safari browser is the most usable and least problematic of the major mobile browsers, based on an analysis of "67,582 combined problem impressions" at the Fixya problem-fixing website. Fixya created ratings based on the number of complaints and the browser's market share based on NetMarketShare numbers. Obviously it doesn't claim to be a scientific survey, but it's probably a reasonable indicator of the marketplace.

Fixya Usability ratings
Overall results. A higher score is better. Credit: Fixya

Apple's Safari won by miles with a score of 1.31. Safari was followed by the stock Android browser (0.87), Opera (0.70) and Google's Chrome (0.64). Microsoft's Internet Explorer came a distant last (0.28).

The main complaints about Safari were the lack of Adobe Flash support (25 percent), "screen real estate" (25 percent) and poor video integration (20 percent) when Flash was not available.

The "screen real estate" issue refers to users "being frustrated with the URL bar disappearing at the top of the page when you scroll down". Although iOS7 improves things, Fixya says there are still "two bars on top and bottom of the screen, limiting web page size and reducing the amount of screen availability users have to read".

Opera was also dinged for "screen real estate" issues (40 percent) and Flash support (15 percent), plus security concerns (20 percent) about using Opera's servers.

The stock Android browser was popular for its Flash support, speed and simplicity, but suffered from random crashes (35 percent), "password concerns" and "limited support" (15 percent).

The "password concerns" are having passwords saved as plain text, while "limited support" reflects concerns about the stock browser playing second fiddle to Chrome.

Chrome was not far behind in its usability rating, but Fixya says its users found "the complete lack of Flash support and sporadic font recognition outweighed the (sometimes) sleek UI and cross platform compatibility that has made the browser so popular". Font recognition was the main problem (30 percent), followed by "tab issues" (25 percent), lack of Flash support (25 percent) and minor JavaScript incompatibilities (10 percent).

The main "tab issue" is when users try to open a link in a new tab and only get an about:blank page.

Internet Explorer was blasted for poor rendering of pages (35 percent), font recognition problems (20 percent) and its use of the Bing search engine (20 percent). Unfortunately, Fixya does not specify which versions this includes, but it notes that "Internet Explorer 10 is a much better product than previous iterations of the Microsoft browser".

Fixya says some IE users had problems switching the default search engine from Bing, or being "kicked out to the separate Bing app". The complaint about "poor rendering" is at least partly due to websites not catering for it properly, and serving up simplified pages.

The Fixya report reflects the US market and widely different numbers of "problem impressions". Safari, for example, had 28,672 and "stock Android 16,097, whereas Chrome and IE had only 3,741 and 4,151 respectively.

The full report is available on Fixya's website.

Fixya Safari ratings chart


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