Apple: Blaze study on iPhone 4 browser performance 'flawed'

Blaze used an embedded viewer, not full Safari browser, for its results

Apple on Thursday called independent tests by Blaze Software that showed the Android-based Nexus S smartphone browsed the Web 52% faster than the iPhone 4 to be "flawed."

The tests, conducted by Blaze over the past two weeks, concluded that both phones were fast, but the Android device was about a second faster on average and beat the iPhone 84% of the time in loading Web pages from the Fortune 1000 companies. In all, Blaze said it ran 45,000 field tests .

But Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said in an interview that the Blaze testing was "flawed because they didn't actually test the Safari browser on the iPhone." Instead, Blaze relied on the results from the embedded Web viewer in the iPhone, she said, which didn't take advantage of recently-added Safari Web performance optimization software.

"Despite this fundamental testing flaw, they still only found an average of a second difference in loading Web pages," Muller said.

Blaze CTO Guy Podjarny said in response that the testing it conducted was done "under the assumption that Apple would apply the same updates to their embedded browser as they would their regular [Safari] browser. If this is not the case -- and according to Apple's response, it's certainly possible -- the embedded browser might produce different results."

Podjarny said Blaze would be "more than willing" to create a new report if Apple decides to apply the Web performance optimization to the embedded Web browser.

Late on Thursday, after Podjarny's response was sent in an e-mail, Blaze updated a blog on its site to add that even with the optimizations in the embedded browser, the impact might not be major.

The Blaze blog also noted that while Apple noted only a one-second difference in loading apps on the two devices, the loading gap was greater on many sites, including up to 10 seconds slower on the iPhone when loading the WSJ.com Web site.

It isn't clear what Apple plans for improvements to its embedded browser. Muller said Apple would not discuss plans for any updates to the embedded Web viewer. The Safari optimizations came with the iOS 4.3 update in early March.

In its study, Blaze noted that it had used Apple's UIWebView embedded browser (or viewer) for its study, and had installed a custom testing app to do its Web page-loading measurements. UIWebView is a kind of WebKit open source technology; Android has a similar embedded browser in its Nexus S and other Android 2.3 devices. The Android embedded browser is called WebView, and is also based on WebKit.

UIWebView allows programmers to embed a Web browser into an app.

Meanwhile, Safari in iOS 4.3 has a new Nitro engine to run JavaScript-based programs, asynchronous loading of Web page elements to improve efficiency and caching that relies on HTML 5, according to analysts.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.

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