Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chrome vs Firefox - Android browser

 It wasn’t all that long ago that Mozilla and Google started making web browsers that, in their own ways, completely changed the way we interact with websites. The goal for both companies was pretty simple — get people away from Internet Explorer and make a better web. Since then, Mozilla and Google have been consistently leap-frogging each other in terms of the best browsing experience. The fastest load times, the most features, and interaction between computers have all been mini battlefields that these two companies have fought on. Now, they are taking the fight to mobile, in an attempt to bring a faster, smarter web to our phones and tablets.

Now, both Google and Mozilla have released beta versions of their incredibly powerful, PC-class browsers to Android. Which is the better beta though?

Most browsers are tested side-by-side using what are generally accepted to be the best benchmarks for determining performance levels. There are so many different things that happen in a browser — especially a modern one — that there’s not really any one definitive test. So, both of these browsers were given Sunspider 9.1, Acid3, and HTML5 benchmarks to see how well they held up against one another. All of the tests were performed on a Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Chrome beta vs Firefox beta

Sunspider 9.1 is a Javascript test designed to provide results that best reflect real world usage. The benchmark tests everything from 3D capabilities to code decompression, even cryptography tests. It is widely considered to be the best test for determining how well a browser will handle regular daily browsing. While the overall score for both of these web browsers is very close, you can see specific areas in which Chrome and Firefox demonstrate strengths and weaknesses. For example, Firefox takes significantly longer than Chrome in tests like 3D raytracing, but id well over 100ms faster than Chrome in code decompression. As a result, basic websites will load noticeably faster on Firefox than on Chrome, but Chrome will handle more complex tasks and animations better.

Firefox vs Chrome for Android
The Acid3 test measures how well a browser follows the standards for the web that have been assembled by the W3C. This is a simple visual test that will plainly show whether or not a browser is complying with these standards. As you can pretty plainly see, Firefox is just shy of being entirely W3C compliant, while Chrome maintains the same 100% compliance seen in the desktop version of the browser.

One percent isn’t a huge difference at all, but in the instance demonstrates that websites that are built to W3C standards might not look exactly like they should on Firefox.

Firefox vs Chrome for Android beta
The HTML5 test is purely designed to test a browsers ability to adhere to the new technologies and standards that currently make up the HTML5 specification. This test isn’t really a demonstration of performance or compliance, but a demonstration of how the browser will handle some basic HTML5 tasks. Since the HTML5 specification is still incomplete, this test isn’t quite as relevant as the other two, but it gives you a good idea of which company is planning for the future. Unsurprisingly, both Firefox  beta and Chrome for Android performed pretty well, though Chrome managed to wind up just a bit above Firefox.

Benchmarks are a lot of fun, but what about the real world? At the end of the day, both of these browsers deliver a superior browsing experience, and they both have critical strengths and weaknesses. Firefox beta loads most websites much faster than Chrome beta, but Chrome is able to deliver things like search results much faster. Additionally, the Firefox Beta is available on far more devices at the moment that Chrome, which is still limited to Android 4.0. Much like my home computer, I see myself having both installed for awhile, switching back and forth as I try to decide which browser I like better.

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