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Jan 19

Comparing the performance attributes of iOS browsers

Mobile, Tech, Web Browsing with tags: Add comments


I recently talked about the attack of the mobile browsers.

Then, Steve shared bookmarklets for mobile performance work.

He and Jesse hosted a fantastic Velocity Summit in the city today with the best and brightest in the realms of web ops and browser land combined. It was an honor learning from them, and it was just fantastic to see top notch folks from Chrome, Firefox, IE participating and sharing ideas.

With all of the performance talk, I started to play with Steve’s work, and was reminded how much of a pain it is to work with bookmarklets on iOS. There are some solutions, from Dropbox, to syncing bookmarks (from iTunes as well as Firefox Home), but in general it can be a pain.

Some of the new iOS browsers have extension support though… such as the 360 Browser. I wondered if it would be more efficient to great extensions (they call them plugins, but that confuses the world with Flash etc) that are quickly actionable from within the browser. Ideally, I could tell the browser to always run the extension so I could collect data throughout a session.

One concern though was the fact that most users on iOS are coming at you from Mobile Safari, and although these new browsers are using the iOS WebKit APIs (as Apple won’t let them do anything else) how different are the browsers themselves?

BrowserScope to the rescue. I fired up and ran all of the tests in each browser application and compared the results. They were incredibly consistent. All of the numbers were the same when run on: Mobile Safari, Sleipnir, 360 Browser, and Skyfire except for the “Cache Redirects” test in the Network section. In that case, two of the browsers passed the test and the other two didn’t. All in all that is pretty friggin’ consistent though. The network connections were all the same for example….. so this makes me feel like there is room for a nice developer oriented iOS browser. Sure, it can’t get access to a lot of the low level data, but there is much that can be done, especially if you pair it with a remote session ability so you can power the beast from a desktop rather than the dinky device itself!

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