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Android spanks Apple’s iOS 4 in JavaScript race

Firefox 4 sticks to slow lane

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The JavaScript engine in Google's Android 2.2 running on a Nexus One phone soundly spanks Apple's iOS 4 incarnation running on an iPhone 4. Also, This Just In: Firefox is Still Slow.

The Android versus iOS test results were announced by Ars Technica, while the snarky-but-credible verdict on the just released beta of Firefox 4 is the result of tests conducted by The GigaOM Network's WebWorkerDaily.

The Ars testing discovered that in pure JavaScript performance, there's really no contest between Android 2.2 and iOS 4. When running the industry-standard SunSpider benchmark (which you can run here), Android 2.2 was nearly twice as fast as Apple's offering.

iOS 4's comparative performance was even worse on Google's own V8 benchmark, which you can run here. Ars found Android 2.2 was well over four times as fast. Of course, V8 is a Googly benchmark, but 4X is 4X.

As The Reg reported last week, development tools firm Appcelerator recently surveyed US developers and learned that a higher percentage of them think that Android has a better long-term outlook than does iOS. The Ars tests, it may be argued, add weight to that viewpoint.

Mozilla's Firefox 4 beta, which you can download now after last week's false alarm, was less embarassed by its competitors than was iOS 4 — but if Mozilla wants to catch up before Firefox 4 comes out of beta, it still has some work to do.

WebWorkerDaily ran both Mozilla's own Dromaeo test suite - the "recommended" version of which you can run here - and Futuremark's Peacekeeper (run it here). WWD chose these tests, they said, because both test suites are more comprehensive than SunSpider and the V8 benchmark.

When running the Dromaeo test suite, the first Firefox 4 beta was solidly twice as fast as Firefox 3.6. That's the good news for Mozilla fans. The bad news is that it's still only abut two-thirds as fast as Safari 5 or Chrome 5.

In the Peacekeeper benchmark, the Firefox 4 beta showed less improvement over Firefox 3.6, was a bit more than half as fast as Opera 10.6 and Chrome 5, and two-thirds as fast as Safari 5.

JavaScript-engine efficiency and test-suite performance speed are of course not the end-all and be-all of browser evaluation. Many a user will put up with a wee drop in performance if, as in the case of Firefox, there's a healthy add-on culture plus nifty UI and productivity features.

We're all easily seduced by speeds and feeds, and sometime forget to evaluate the entire software experience. That said, as we mentioned above: "4X is 4X". ®

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