BURNING QUESTION: Are mobile Web apps ever going to grow up?
Apple unveiled the iPad 2 last week in San Francisco, with a companion even in London, U.K., where Jason Jenkins, who writes for CNET UK's Crave gadget blog, had the brilliant idea of actually running a key benchmark test in the few minutes that he had the tablet in his hands.
[Jenkins' original post at the CNET UK was picked up and referenced by a range of tech Web sites, such as here at The Unofficial Apple Webblog; but the original CNET UK post, at this writing, is no longer available. A cached version could still be found.]
"The good news for anyone thinking of buying the iPad 2 is that it did incredibly well in the test, outperforming all the rivals we have in the building to compare with it," Jenkins reported.
The rivals included the Google Nexus S smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, both running Android, and the Android browser. Nexus S with Android 2.3.2, took 6,128 milliseconds to run the benchmark; the Samsung device, 7,066; iPad 2 took 2,097 seconds.
Jenkins concluded that overall iPad 2 is about 1.5 times faster on the Web than the original tablet.
The 4.3 iOS version will be released for existing iPads, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS models on March 11. Users likely will see a noticeable improvement in Web performance, at least in some applications.
Jenkins argues that this level of improved Web performance make buying the original iPad a very good deal, especially with the current discount now being offered by Apple. "Our numbers indicate that -- providing you're mainly going to use the iPad for Web browsing rather than gaming or videoconferencing -- that's a pretty nifty deal, as the performance difference between the two [iPads] is closer than Apple's marketing might lead you to believe," he writes.
Jenkins quick benchmark is not intended as a definitive analysis of how well iPad 2, and iOS 4.3 with the latest Safari actually handle Web content. That's a complex field, depending on more than just the raw processing power of the computing hardware. Performance can be heavily influenced by the various components of inside the Web browser, by the Web server itself, and the way that browser and server interact.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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