The Orange View (on hiatus) Because Apple is great but it isn't perfect


Troubling problems for HTML-based apps on iPhone (updated)

The Register does not have an unblemished record when it comes to reporting on Apple. But they've got what appears to be a well-sourced analysis out today about problems with HTML-based apps running on iPhones and iPads. Remember that because of Apple's new and anticompetitive subscription app rules, more developers and publishers might be forced to offer HTML-based apps instead of full-powered iOS apps.

If a web app is run from the iOS 4.3 home screen – in other words, if it is saved to the screen alongside local apps downloaded from the Apple App Store – and launched into full-screen mode, it runs roughly two to two and a half times slower than it does in the browser, according to various tests. It appears that whereas Apple has updated the iOS 4.3 Safari browser with its high-speed Nitro JavaScript engine, Nitro is not used when web apps are launched from the home screen.

"Essentially, there are two different JavaScript engines," says Alex Kessinger, a mobile application developer and blogger who has focused on building web-standards-based apps for the iPhone. "They're not using the new JavaScript engine with applications that launch from the home screen."

What's more, such "home screen web apps" can't use various web caching systems, including the HTML5 Application Cache, which means they can't be cached to run offline. And they aren't rendered using Apple's newer "asynchronous mode". They're saddled with the old "synchronous mode", which means means they don't quite look as good.

-The Register, March 15, 2011

UPDATE: Software developer Rafe Colburn thinks this is an unintentional bug that will be corrected.

Posted by Aaron Pressman

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  1. The thing is, though, the “slow” javascript engine is the same speed as the one in the 4.2 browser. Which means the apps aren’t any slower than they would have been 5 minutes previously before you installed 4.3.

    The Register needs a good hard slap for this ridiculous non-story.

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