iOS leaves Android in the dust for HTML 5 performance

A new study from spaceport.io finds that iOS delivers three times better performance than Android when it comes to HTML 5 apps.

The future of Web-based apps seems to be HTML5. As ubiquitous as it is on PCs, Adobe Flash has failed to catch on in the mobile world, and alternate solutions like Silverlight are too proprietary. A new report finds that iOS blows Android out of the water when it comes to HTML 5 performance.

Spaceport.io tested a variety of iOS and Android devices for its PerfMarks report. The goal was to compare the performance of HTML 5 apps on different hardware and software combinations to see which mobile platform delivers a better HTML 5 experience. The study found that iOS has about three times better HTML 5 performance than Android.

The PerfMarks methodology tested each device and operating system combination to assess the ability to animate image movement. Basically, spaceport.io measured the number of moving images that can be displayed at one time while maintaining a minimum frame rate of 30 FPS (frames per second) -- a gaming baseline for smooth animation rendering.

Of the devices tested, the iPad 2 delivers the best HTML 5 experience. In fact, the iPad 2 beat out Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Asus Eee Pad Transformer despite the superior hardware specs for the Android tablets. The results are a poignant example that winning the specs war on paper, and delivering better performance in real life are two very different things.

The iPhone 4S also scored highly -- handling over 200 moving objects while maintaining a frame rate of 30 FPS. In stark contrast, almost all Android smartphones were only capable of handling only one object at 30 FPS. Spaceport.io reports that even the oldest iPhone tested -- the iPhone 3GS -- is capable of 53 animated objects at 30 FPS.

Predictably, the best of the Android smartphones was the current flagship device. The Galaxy Nexus runs Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' which has massive improvements in terms of HTML 5 performance. However, even the Galaxy Nexus only managed about half the animated objects as an iPhone 4S while maintaining the 30 FPS frame rate.

A number of major players--such as Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft--have backed HTML 5 as the standard for Web apps. With the trend toward HTML 5 there are emerging efforts to establish objective benchmarks and metrics for measuring and comparing performance. Results from studies like this one provide valuable information for vendors, developers, and consumers to gauge the available options.

Many of the apps that are out there -- both for Adobe Flash and for the emerging HTML 5 trend -- are games. On one level, that makes Flash and HTML 5 sort of frivolous or trivial. But, HTML 5 can be used for more productive apps as well, and HTML 5 games are a valid test for performance because they tend to be more demanding in terms of the processing power, memory, and graphics resources they consume.

It is worth noting that the spaceport.io PerfMarks report only looks at iOS and Android. Microsoft is a supporter of HTML 5, so it seems reasonable to assume that the Windows Phone platform would perform admirably on these tests. Hopefully future reports will include a wider range of platforms for a more comprehensive study of the available devices and operating systems.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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