These days, pretty much anyone will tell you that HTML5 is the future of the internet. Where Adobe Flash once ruled the day as the primary means of delivering rich content on the web, HTML5 is making huge strides in replacing it. HTML5 is the backbone of many of the most popular and useful web apps out there, including many of those in Google’s Chrome Web Store, as well as the competing marketplace that will be launched by Mozilla later this year.
One of the driving forces behind the adoption of HTML5 – apart from the fact that it’s non-proprietary, unlike Flash – is its importance to the mobile web. If you know much at all about smartphones, you know that the built-in Safari web browser in Apple’s iOS devices doesn’t do Flash. When asked, Apple has always cited stability and security concerns, but whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that the single most widely-used mobile web browser can’t deal with one of the most widely-used content delivery methods on the web. Given Apple’s stubbornness on this point, those who have wanted to make websites that are viewable by iOS users have had to turn to HTML5.
That raises an interesting question, though: just how good is iOS at delivering HTML5 content? As a corollary, how good is Android at delivering HTML5 content? Given Google’s increasing reliance on HTML5, that’s a pretty significant question in its own right. And finally, which platform does HTML5 better? Back in March Spaceport.io did a study that looked at those very questions. Spaceport is a company that specializes in development tools for fames on various platforms, particularly mobile platforms like iOS and Android. Given the potential of HTML5 for creating platform-agnostic apps and games, Spaceport decided to compare the performance of iOS to that of Android. What they found in their original PerfMarks Report is that iOS handled HTML5 far better than Android (in that case, the Galaxy Nexus).
Now, Spaceport has released the PerfMarks II Report. PerfMarks II subjects the most recent versions of Mobile Safari and Chrome for Android running on their respective top-of-the-line devices to a broader and more thorough battery of tests than the original PerfMarks. The results are interesting, to say the least. Once again, the iPhone beat Android by a considerable margin. The test compared the iPhone 4 running iOS 5.1.1, the iPhone 4S running iOS 5.1, the Samsung Galaxy S II running Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich, and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S II were running Chrome for Android beta, while the two iPhones were, of course, running mobile Safari.
Between the two Android devices, the Galaxy S II was the clear winner, performing considerably better than the Galaxy Nexus. That is quite surprising, considering that the Galaxy Nexus is newer, and was designed to be Google’s flagship Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich device. Among the iPhones, however, the results were predictable: the iPhone 4S, with it’s much-improved processor, easily outperformed the iPhone 4. When the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S II are compared, the report shows that the iPhone 4S rendered HTML5 web content as much as 7 times faster than the Galaxy S II.
That’s not all, however. Given that HTML5 is viewed as platform-agnostic, the report also compares the two top-performing smartphones to a control device: an Apple MacBook Pro running OS X 10.7.3. The MacBook was tested using the Google Chrome 18 and a build of WebKit that closely mimics Safari 5.1.5. Here again, the results were not especially surprising: while the iPhone was 7 times faster than the Galaxy S II, it was 6 times slower than the MacBook. The Galaxy S II, meanwhile, rendered HTML5 content 10 times slower than the MacBook.
This data leads the report to conclude that as a true multi-platform solution (especially for gaming, which is Spaceport’s primary focus), “the sad truth is that [HTML5] is just not ready for prime time,” and that its “lackluster performance,” especially on smartphones, “it is currently an undesirable platform for many types of applications, especially games.” They remain confident, however that reports like this that show the problems with HTML5 will lead to improvements in the platform. Spaceport founder Ben Savage expressed hope that “the spaceport.io PerfMarks report will help both browser creators and app developers know what to push for in terms of HTML5 technology necessities.”
For more information, you can check out the full PerfMarks Report here.