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back to article Android spanks Apple’s iOS 4 in JavaScript race

The JavaScript engine in Google's Android 2.2 running on a Nexus One phone soundly spanks Apple's iOS 4 incarnation running on an iPhone 4. Also, This Just In: Firefox is Still Slow. The Android versus iOS test results were announced by Ars Technica, while the snarky-but-credible verdict on the just released beta of Firefox 4 is …

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WTF?

Firefox and IE

My work laptop comes with Vista and IE.

For me I use FireFox currently 3.6

I've run the script and according to the output FF is a *little* quicker.

See below.

** TOTAL **: 26.1x as fast 86337.8ms +/- 6.0% 3305.0ms +/- 12.5% significant

Significant!!

P.

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indeed

Microsoft's own viewpoint is that once the next version of IE comes out, comparing javascript performance will be essentially irrelevant since they're all basically really fast, in the same way that noone worries about the processor impact of playing back mp3s.

(for what it's worth, MS claim IE9 is faster than FF, but from their point of view, all that's important is that it's in the same ballpark as other browsers, as opposed to the fail that is every other IE)

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looking another year down the line

What odds that there's actually a significant even if still small number of "obsolete" iphones running android? I've seen a hack to put it on a 3g somewhere I think - but in another year the 3gs is going to be sent to the fruity knackers yard, and it's still a fairly decent bit of hardware.

From a personal perspective, I've a nexus one, and I quite like being able to tinker. My wife has an iphone 3gs, and is getting ever more fed up with it, although mainly because of how diabolical itunes is on an older pc. She'd be over the moon to have it "androided up" if it meant simple drag and drop file management for her music.

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Stop

Its the way you're holding it.

If you use two-fingers and hold at a 37* angle you will find that iPhone 4 is considerably faster. At everything.

Come on El Reg, listen to the Jobs.

Seriously though I didn't even realise there were other browsers for phones, I have found both Safari and the one for Android (Chrome!?) perfectly fine.

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Coat

4X is

That Australian urine masquerading as lager

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Anonymous Coward

4x is 4x...in the lab

..meanwhile, "bois" on both sides of the fences are actually blaming their service providers for the wildly variable performance over 3G. And with some justification. In the real world, I doubt anyone will actually notice, given the "drag" and variability therein.

However, a pissing contest is a pissing contest...and Apple, you lost - stay behind after class for a lesson on why this matters.

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Unhappy

Android 2.2?

To be honest, all this talk of Java on Android (along with WiFi tethering, apps on SD, etc) are pretty pointless considering the Nexus One is the only handset that's got 2.2 so far, with no news at all for the likes of us HTC Desire owners.

One thing Apple does have going for it, is that updates get to just about everyone at the same time. We Android users are left in the dark not knowing when, or if, we'll ever get an update.

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Linux

Blame the vendors

HTC Sense is very pretty, but that's the reason for the delay in getting updates out. The same goes for Sony's UX. If they'd leave out the eye candy and run with default Android + custom widgets the updates would be a snap.

Even the venerable G1 can run 2.2 but vendors insisting on putting their own spin on the OS are making a rod for their own backs.

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Bronze badge
Jobs Horns

yep

Yeah I'd go with that. If Android was Android and that was the end of it, then that would be much better. Consistent user experience across the same platform. If a user wants to install a slightly different shell (Sense UI or whatever), then they should have the option.

But give people a consistent base to work from and put an end to vendor/operator customisation. It sucks and is a waste of their time, noone wants it.

Got an HTC Desire... by the way... it's awesome.

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Anonymous Coward

@Bryan

Don't want to sound like an OSS bigot, but the nice thing about Android is you can DIY 2.2 for most handsets including Desire now - all the hard work is done.

Check the XDA forum - updating is probably much easier than you think - I've had 2.2 on my Nexus for several months in various incarnations, including some of the earlier horror shows. Worse case is you don't like it and decide to wait for the next point - its 2 minutes of effort to undo.

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@AC 7/7/2010 22:57GMT: Fragmentation

That is indeed one of the good things about OSS. But most people are probably not willing to tinker like that in case they brick their phone. Justified or not, it is an understandable point of view.

I can understand the motivations of the vendors in seeking to customise their GUIs. Otherwise they merely become a hardware manufacturer with no killer distinguishing characteristics - a sure way to price wars and low profits. But the fragmentation is surely a bad thing for us consumers and the developers. Just look at how the fragmentation in the linux desktop arena has ensured a minimal mass uptake.

Android is just another Linux, but there's Meegoo in the wings ready to enter stage right. So which one of those will prove to be the one to go for? Already there's many different versions and spins on Android - nigthmare! And whilst I think Linux isn't too bad, it really really wasn't designed with mobiles in mind. So I can't see how it can ever compete technologically, especially on battery life, with Symbian, which was designed specifically for low powered operation by good old Psion. Another off putting thing - a friend with an Android phone was seriously worried about taking it abroad. Not because it might not work, but because of the large number of apps which were notourious for just switching on the 3G data feed and doing some stuff without ever asking, despite a system wide setting to the contrary. That's a really good way of racking up a large bill for data roaming.

Apple's proposition to the punter and developer is attractive in some regards - less anarchy for a start. It's just a pity that they get almost everything else (DRM, restrictive lock down, antennae, price etc) wrong. If they fixed those problems, hell, even I might buy one!

Symbian historically had fragmentation by design. Terrible! A fundamentally good operating system with the best possible technical characteristics for a mobile, but ruined by fragmentation at the GUI level and a necessarily complex program environment which guaranteed no developer ever really developed software for it! Who knows where it's going now, Symbian^3 and ^4 may be worthwhile, but only if it is the same on everything. Again, not what the vendors want. And the technological benefits aren't going to be realised if that complex program environment is sidestepped by developers writing apps ignoring the power saving aspects of the OS. Writing really efficient apps is really hard on any platform. Whilst Symbian apparently offers a developer using C++ some tremendous power saving things, I hear that exploiting them is supposed to be really hard. There's clearly not many developers out there with the skills or the patience, otherwise there would be a large supply of fantastic Symbian native apps.

Perhaps Windows Mobile 7? Who knows. Microsoft do have the power to stop vendors tinkering with GUIs, etc. and they could use that to drive a rapid update cycle out to all users no matter what handset they've got. If they did that then it wouldn't matter if it were perfect or not at the beginning; they would be able to improve rapidly across the whole market in a controlled manner. But that would definitely reduce the vendors to being just hardware manufacturers, with low profits.

Currently there's no phone out there that I would be prepared to invest large sums of money in. I've conluded that there's no widespread stability in the ones that aren't locked down by Apple. And Apples are too badly restricted, and bling-factor alone doesn't appeal. That means a free handset on a short contract is the way to go. If it turns out to be a dead duck, who cares. So a HTC desire is a good choice, so perhaps is a N8 when it comes out. Not because I think they'll be the ultimate mobiles, but because I can get them free on a contract. Or, just to really annoy Apple, Symbian^3 ported on to an iPhone.

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Bronze badge

3g roaming

I can't speak for other models, but in my nexus one I can either disable roaming or completely disable 3G

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FAIL

"doing some stuff without ever asking, despite a system wide setting to the contrary"

You're confusing the "Data roaming" setting with the "Background data" setting. Apps cannot override the data roaming setting, so since this was introduced around 18 months ago it has been impossible to unwittingly accumulate enormous roaming bills. Apps can indeed ignore "Background data" at their leisure.

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FAIL

"a friend with an Android phone was seriously worried about taking it abroad"

This is incorrect. If I turn my 3G off, it stays off until I explicitly turn it back on.

Also, as others have pointed out, there is a setting to disable data roaming.

I've heard the same legend about the iPhone... wonder if this is just getting confused?

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Anonymous Coward

What

Benchmarks are useless when browsing around on my Froyo'd Nexus One is slower than my friend's iPhone 3G. Not to mention the animations are stuttery and the whole UI is as smooth as windows 95. Javascript may be faster on the N1 in the benchmarks but the iphone is sure as hell way better optimised to it's inferior hardware.

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Silver badge

Not sure I'd go that far

The double tap zoom animations on my Nexus One are noticeably more forced somehow than on my iPhone, but I'm pretty sure that's just because they're doing different things — on an iPhone a zoom is just a zoom, whereas the Android browser has a stab at reflowing relevant text to fit the new window boundaries. So across the entire operation the Android is possibly doing substantially more work.

The 'just put a finger down and wiggle it around as fast as possible' test used to show the page keeping up perfectly on the iPhone but lagging behind your movements by a noticeable delay (though then moving at the correct rate; it's just like it started too late and never feels it can go artificially more quickly to catch up) on Android when I had 2.1, but the 2.2 update seems to have corrected that. It's a stupid and artificial test, but there you go. As pointed out above, so is Javascript performance when the bottleneck is the mobile data network. This should embarrass Apple on a technical level but as a user I'm not that bothered.

As a developer I'll become bothered if Apple ever expose their Javascript interpreter for user programs in a halfway decent manner. You know, like they do on the desktop.

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Headmaster

Get shut of it

Steve should ban java from the platform, if it can't perform.

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Linux

Ohhh I love that title.

Spanking really turns me on!

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Javascript tests aren't important anymore

A page loading test really is the best way to measure browsing speed. There are so many technologies coming out, JS isn't (and never was, till google hyped it up) the best measure of browser speed.

Things like Hardware acceleration in the next gen of browsers will make speed tests irrelevant anyway.

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Bronze badge

RE: Javascript tests aren't important anymore

So what about all those ajax based applications that run JS code in the user's browser.

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Gold badge

Wow

I've buy a phone because of the javascript performance.

I think not.

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does anyone care

is there any indication of what %of time phone user spend running javascript stuff ? in my case, about 0.05...

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Joke

Snigger

Ars testing..... :o)

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Gold badge
Coat

Re: Snigger

Are you suggesting that FF is getting a bum rap?

The cheek of it all......

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Ars longa...

Well, it's all about the end user's experience after all...

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Gold badge

Safari on the iPad is sloooowwww

Don't know or particularly care about the JavaScript performance though. I guess Safari was a step-up on the the original iPhone, but coming from a tablet PC to the iPad I'd say it's one of the main weak points. Not awful, but limited.

Must agree with someone above though. I don't recall anyone seriously talking about JavaScript performance until Chrome came on the scene.

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To be fair though...

The thing is, before the web 2.0 mob invaded, JavaScript was mainly a sideline - something for doing image-changes on mouseover or other secondary fluff. With the rise of AJaX and JSON though JavaScript has had an ever increasing role in determining the actual layout and functionality of the page (try using Facebook with JavaScript disabled for instance) - and that's when JS performance starts to matter.

Google just reacted to this trend before anyone else by focusing on the JS engine in Chrome to make it fast. It was more of a "sign of the times" than just a simple exercise in willy waving.

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Speed and standards.

The Android 2.2 browser is superior to both it's previous incarnations and the iPhone's browser not only from a Javascript perspective but also standards support.

E.g. position:fixed; does not work on the iPhone or any android browser pre Froyo

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Thumb Down

Not impressed

I downloaded Android Firefox about a month ago and it was not what I'd call a "robust solution", the default Android browser is far superior IMHO. I might be tempted again when they do a full release candidate but until then it's unlikely.

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Thumb Up

Opera

"We're all easily seduced by speeds and feeds, and sometime forget to evaluate the entire software experience."

Which is why people should use Opera (on both their desktop and their mobile), as you don't have to make that compromise. It's got blistering speed AND an excellent software experience.

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I disagree

I've tried previous and current versions of Opera and they all make a pigs ear of at least one website that I visit regularly and none of them so far have played well with my companies' proxy server (usually they just keep asking me to authenticate over and over again).

The mobile version *is* better than IE mobile and whatever Nokia's offering on S60 handsets is, though, but I find mobile Safari and Chrome much better.

Last time I tried Opera I decided to use if for a month to make sure I gave it a fair chance. Unfortunately I had to repeatedly use a different browser on some sites because of the wonky rendering and yes I know that's they site's fault not Opera's, but that doesn't help me as an end user.

So at the end of the month I didn't even think twice about keeping it as my main browser, I just reclaimed the disk space.

As an overall experience I'd rate it 5/10 at best - could do better. Somewhat short of excellent.

Subjective? Of course, but everything like this *is* subjective; so you stick to Opera and I'll use what I want to use.

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Jobs Halo

My Phones faster than yours?????

As if the average punter gives a damn about browser speeds

What they want is a nice bit of kit in their pockets, something thats easy to use and update, maybe even something that has a bit of resale value when they decide to upgrade.

I love the idea of Android but its got a long, long way to go to get close to the Apple offering.

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Javascript is not Java

Bryan and Richard - you do know that don't you - or did the similar names confuse you?

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Alert

Javascript not important on an iPhone?

For all you whining on that these tests are not important, I'd just like to point out that if Jobs thinks that Flash is a non-starter, and HTML5* is the way forward, then fast JavaScript is massively important!

I.e. you're never gonna get half of what flash can do to run well in a browser without blazingly fast JavaScript.

(* before I get flamed, by HTML5 I refer to this mythical "HTML5" package that everyone is up-selling - html5, javascript, css3 etc - rather than the HTML 5 standard itself!)

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Silver badge

Tests not important

If something takes 5s to download ( and that's fast out here in the sticks) then the fact it can run the js in 0.5s rather than 2s - to create extraneous content and tell some marketing tosser I need some viagra - is pretty much a moot point..

A well designed page and site speed things up 100 fold.

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So what ?

I really wonder if people spend its time to test several browsers before they adopt one of them since one usually uses the default browser and one stays with it.

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Gav
Thumb Down

It's a BETA

Anyone who compares benchtests of a beta version against production versions needs taken out and slapped around the head with a wet fish until they get a clue.

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FAIL

@Badwolf Fixed it for ya

"I dislike the idea of Apple and its got a long, long way to go to get close to the Android offering."

Anyone that's used this years Android handesets (NexusOne, Desire, Wildfire, Legend etc) knows that even with iOS4, Apple are already behind and losing ground very quicly indeed.

Hell even last years Android hansets like the HTC hero make the 3GS look crap.

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FAIL

"a higher percentage of them think that Android has a better long-term outlook than does iOS"

As I'm sure we are all aware, the "best" technology doesn't always win out in the marketplace...look at the graveyard of better technologies that died in the face of consumer choice, be it due to a herd mentality or lack of sophistication of the consumer. Witness the iPod: it became the dominant MP3 player despite being late to the market, not because it was a better technology, but because iTunes made it simple for the average idiot (read: consumer) to get music and put it on their player. Everything else before it used proprietary drivers and software and USB mass storage class drag-and-drop...organization was left up to the user and we all know what the average computer user's hard drive looks like.

Until someone comes up with a better iTunes-ish thing for their smartphone, Apple will control the mindshare of the non-enterprise smartphone consumer. As El Reg put it themselves, Android could do well with a benevolent dictator to provide continuity and simplicity across Android platforms...

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That depends...

on how we define "Best Technology"

For the technically literate the ability to customise, modify, hack your system is important.

For generation Hollyoaks, Skins and Glee Club the most important thing is... "Will my music, facebook and photos work on it? Just like wot it does on my iPod".

And that's the bit Apple has got right. Unlike the alternatives no matter how many advanced features they have.

This isn't going to be a rerun of Windows vs Mac. Some IT departments stopped the Mac because it let users users easily achieve complicated things with relative ease. (Back in the 90's anyone could setup an AppleTalk network in minutes bypassing IT's complex Netware setup altogether).

This time round the user is making the buying decisions not IT. And Jack/Gemma public will largely go with simple and easy over sophisticated and fragmented.

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Jobs Halo

Its just a JavaScript engine ...

... Not that big of a deal.

Steve

Sent from my iPhone

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Where can I buy an android version of an iPod Touch?

Or an Android iPad?

I'm not in the market for a phone, but I'd spring for $150 for an android device that I could play with (Apple is selling refurbed 8GB Touches for $149, $199 new).

I see lots of "reviews" and pre-release sightings of impending Android "pads" in various formats, but the only actually hardware that seems to be available are anaemic Chinese clones running 1.5 or 1.6 on eBay. Not much evidence of a mass market there.

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Anonymous Coward

#Where can I buy an android version of an iPod Touch?

Last months Shenzhen's tradeshow had at least 30....

>Apple is selling refurbed 8GB Touches for $149, $199 new

About the same prices as Shen Lianhua 10.1 inch A8 Tablets running Android 2.1 then - personally I'd wait for the dual-core A9s to ship end of this month, but they'll cost you another 50 quid. Take your pick though, there are thousands of factories producing little else in China right now.

>Not much evidence of a mass market there.

Couldn't be further from the truth - mostly the tablets and candy bar phone clones head to S and SE Asia and Africa - 10s of millions of such devices are turned out every couple of months.

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Anonymous Coward

Fx JS

Those interested in Firefox's JS speed may wish to view their performance tracker:

http://arewefastyet.com/

Note that they currently have two different JS JIT branches: their existing tracing JIT and their new method JIT. These two branches will eventually be merged (presumably before 4.0 final) and should be faster together than either alone.

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