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rottenThis might just be why I found the HTML5 version of Ibis Reader to run so ungodly slow on my first-generation iPod Touch. The Register has determined that iOS runs web applications significantly slower when they’re launched from the home screen than when they’re accessed from the Safari browser. It’s not clear whether this is intentional or accidental, though plenty of people are quick to assume the worst.

[Apple] has a vested interest in its App Store, where it takes a 30 per cent cut of all applications sold, and pure web applications are ultimately a threat to the store, particularly when they’re loaded to the iOS home screen as if they were local apps. "Some people like to think of it as a conspiracy theory, but it could be a bug," [mobile app developer Alex] Kessinger says, referring to the speed issue. "If it is conspiracy, it makes a lot of sense for Apple. If you ‘disallow’ home screen web apps, you prevent people, in a way, from bypassing the App Store."

The main cause of the performance hit seems to be the Nitro JavaScript engine, which is used in Mobile Safari but not when apps are launched from the home screen—Apple is not degrading app performance so much as it just isn’t improving it. There are also differences in caching and rendering that mean the apps can’t run offline and don’t look as good on the screen. An unnamed developer confirms that multiple bug reports have been filed on these issues, but says the Mobile Safari team has indicated they will not be fixed.

This could put a kink in Amazon or other e-book companies’ plans to compete with HTML 5 non-app-store-based readers in the future.  Regardless, Android devices are starting to look better and better.

 
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