Apple slows iPhone web apps on home screen

Adding websites and other web-based apps to the home screen is a common feature used by Apple iOS users, but did you know going to the app from the home screen is actually slower than just pulling up the app on Apple's mobile Safari browser?

It is.

Apple developers, and The Register, are reporting that web applications run "significantly" slower when the apps are launched from iOS' home screen when compared to running the applications via Safari.

One anonymous iOS developer said, "Apple is basically using subtle defects to make web apps appear to be low quality - even when they claim HTML5 is a fully supported platform."

The Cupertino-based company also appears to hinder the performance of web-based apps in other ways as well, like not allowing the home screen-pinned apps take advantage of iOS 4.3's Nitro JavaScript engine.

"Essentially, there are two different JavaScript engines," iOS developer Alex Kessinger told The Rog. "They're not using the new JavaScript engine with applications that launch from the home screen."

Apple has also prohibited the home screen-pinned web apps from taking advantage of its HTML5 Application Cache, not allowing the apps to be viewed offline. The applications also use Apple's old "synchronous mode", which in turn makes the apps look worse than it should.

The same anonymous developer that was quoted above also said that numerous bug reports detailing the issues have been reported to Apple. "I've talked to people on the Mobile Safari team who said they knew about the [caching] issue," he said.

It's still unclear if this is a bug or it is a flaw that Apple intentionally wants to keep.

"Some people like to think of it as a conspiracy theory, but it could be a bug," Kessinger told The Reg. "If it is a 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," he continued.

Another iOS developer named Maximiliano Firtman told The Rogister that he was not 100 percent sure, but "99.9999 percent sure" that the speed difference is a result from the lack of the Nitro JavaScript engine.

Apple has yet to respond and make a comment.