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Today Safari Flops On Apple New Browser Speed Tests

Stephen ShanklandJune 2014

Apple's current Safari browser doesn't fare very well on a pair of new speed tests for Web browsers -- but the company's next version likely will make significant gains in the highly competitive market.

The tests, called JetStream and Speedometer, measure two important attributes of browser performance, respectively: the JavaScript programs and the Document Object Model (DOM) that lets browsers change elements of a Web page. Both are important for Web pages and Web apps that are interactive, not just static documents -- that is, the browser tests are a good indication of whether you'll enjoy or be frustrated by the time you spend on Facebook, Gmail, Flickr, and Cut the Rope.

"Scores on JetStream are a good indicator of the performance users would see in advanced Web applications like games," Apple programmer Filip Pizlo said in a blog post about JetStream. And his colleague Ryosuke Niwa said about Speedometer, "We decided to write a new benchmark for the end-to-end performance of a complete Web application."

Apple announced the tests in conjunction with its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), where the company annually reveals new features programmers can use to write better software for Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

In my tests, Safari fares relatively poorly on the new benchmarks, lagging Google's Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox, and Opera Software's Opera. But there are signs that the next version of Safari, which Apple showed off at WWDC as it demonstrated OS X 10.10 Mavericks, will jump ahead.

That's an important step if Apple wants to improve its weak fourth-place ranking on PC browsing and keep its top spot in mobile browsing as Chrome rises through the ranks. Faster browsers make Web sites and Web apps more responsive for people using the browser, and that performance translates directly into more engaged users who read more online, perform more searches, and make more e-commerce purchases.

One high-ranking Apple developer took a jab at Chrome after the benchmarks emerged, indicating that the next Safari gets faster and that Apple is sensitive to Google's performance claims.

"Chrome loses to both Safari and Firefox on both JetStream and Speedometer. Surprising for 'A faster way to browse the web'(tm)," Apple's Maciej Stachowiak tweeted.

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