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HTML5 on Android 4.0: Way Better, Still Behind iOS 5

12.20.2011
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So affirms Sencha, in the latest installment of their HTML5 developer scorecards series.

Four-sentence version:

After putting the Galaxy Nexus through our test wringer, we can say that Ice Cream Sandwich is a major step for the Android browser. However, it still falls short of iOS 5. It’s a solid browser for normal page browsing and it adds major new features that support most of the HTML5 spec. It also has taken a big step forward in correctness of rendering, which is a welcome change for people who want to push their mobile browsers to the limit.


The most exciting new feature support, in Sencha's opinion: tons of CSS3, including the more nativey-slick, like animations, refletions, transformations, and transitions.

Some specific missing features:

  • Web Workers
  • Web Sockets
  • WebGL
  • datetime and range input types
  • overflow-scrolling
  • Shared Workers

The device Sencha used was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which meant that some performance and zoom issues might tell you as much about the hardware as about the OS. But the biggest rendering improvement: rendering was simply correct.

One way Ice Cream Sandwich beat iOS 5? Embedded inline HTML5 video. They actually played inline on the Galaxy Nexus, in Sencha's tests; they didn't on the iPad and iPhone running iOS 5.

Here's Sencha's rather glowing closing summary:

In summary, the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich are a major step forward for the Android platform. Feature by feature, HTML5 support has gotten much better, rendering has become more accurate, and performance has gotten much faster. Although still behind the current HTML5 gold standard of iOS5, Android 4.0 is night and day compared to previous versions.


That 'night and day' is pretty strong, and definitely great news for HTML5 developers.

If you're developing HTML5 apps for mobile, you should probably read the full report, which includes JavaScript performance numbers via SunSpider, Acid3 scores, and detailed results of Sencha's own touch-specific test suite.