Photo: Dan Frommer
An apparent feature in Apple’s new iOS operating system for iPhones and iPads seems to be slowing down web apps. Specifically, if they are launched from a bookmark on the device’s home screen — like an app — as opposed to opening them directly from the Safari browser.The conspiracy theory is that Apple is doing this on purpose, to discourage people from using web apps and to encourage them to use apps from the App Store, which may cost money and generate revenue for Apple.
Sorry, but there’s no way that’s the case. Apple has absolutely every incentive for web apps to work wonderfully on the iPhone, no matter which way you run them.
Apple has always tried to make its web app performance as strong as possible, and there’s no way it would then artificially slow it down for some use cases. iPhone web apps are competing on performance with Google Android web apps, not with the App Store.
Remember: Apple makes the vast majority of its iPhone revenue and profit from selling iPhones, not from selling apps. Therefore, Apple’s best interest is making web apps fly, not slowing them down in any way. That’s how Apple can sell more iPhones, and that is its main objective.
If this is a real problem, it’s a bug, and will be fixed — it’s not some evil engineering on Apple’s part. (And frankly, it’s probably not something anyone would ever really notice, anyway — just something you could detect in a lab.)
Update: John Gruber has posted a lengthy, semi-technical explanation for this. It’s not a bug or a conspiracy. Basically, Apple has sped up its web browser in iOS 4.3, but for security concerns, isn’t letting some web apps use the faster features when they are run in special “full screen mode.” These specific web apps running outside the browser aren’t being slowed down — they’re just not as sped up as web apps running within the browser. For security concerns. Again, no big deal, and certainly no conspiracy.
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