Apple has hit back over claims that the browser shipped with its iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices is significantly slower than Android's equivalent, calling the independent testing 'flawed'.
According to comments made by Apple's Natalie Kerris to CNET, the company's official stance is that the tests carried out by independent mobile optimisation firm Blaze.io - which entered into the testing with an open mind, claiming that it didn't know which of the two mobile platforms would emerge victorious - gave invalid results when it showed the Android browser outperforming iOS by around 52 per cent.
Apple's argument stems from Blaze.io's use of its homebrew testing app, which loads web pages internally and times how long they take to download and render - a technique the company uses to analyse the performance of company's mobile optimisation efforts.
"They didn't actually test the Safari browser on the iPhone," Kerris argues. "Instead they only tested their own proprietary app, which uses an embedded Web viewer that doesn't actually take advantage of Safari's Web performance optimisations."
This, claims Blaze.io, is news to the world. "Embedded browsers are expected to behave, for the most part, the same as the regular browser," the company stated, defending its methodology. "However, Apple is now stating that their embedded browser, called UIWebView, does not share the same optimisations MobileSafari does.
"To the extent of our knowledge, this is the first time Apple has openly made such a statement. Given the information that various optimisations are not included in the embedded browser, it’s quite possible the iPhone page loads could be faster."
The revelation is an embarrassment for both firms: Blaze.io's independent testing now appears less thorough than was originally the case, while Apple appears dishonest for introducing performance improvements to its browser that it secretly withheld from developers accessing it via embedding.
Does Blaze.io believe its tests were misleading? No, the company has stated. "We stand behind the statement that Android’s embedded browser is faster than iPhone’s. We hope Apple will help us enable those [browser] optimisations and repeat the measurement. Until then, for all we know the missing optimisations may not make a big impact."