I finally get why Apple chose Safari for the iPhone. It’s because Safari does content rendering amazingly fast: especially AJAX. This should have been more evident when the iPhone was first revealed and a customized Google Maps application showed the little red pin dropping on the map a smooth animated way. I’ve included the video below.
Watch the animations carefully and remind yourself that Google Maps is running inside a browser on a phone:
At work, I am writing an application that does some AJAX event handling. The scripts I use fire up as soon as the page finishes loading, and takes linearly more time to initialize as the page size increases.
- In Firefox, this same freeze time is about 1/2 a second.
- In Safari, I can’t notice the load up time. And I’m really paying attention.
The very first time I launched Safari, it was slow as pudding — probably doing updates or something behind the scenes. But after the third or fourth start up, it was amazingly fast. I mean really fast. Firefox and IE both take a few sounds to launch. Safari is probably twice as fast (as advertised!). I don’t know how they do it, especially since the entire application has a visual skin, but they did it.
Another interesting aspect of the Safari browser is memory usage. Many people have probably noticed it is a beast when it is being actively used. And it is. But it is actually very smart in how it manages your memory. Observe:
- I have a blank window of Safari open and it is using 22 megs of memory.
- I visit Google.com and it goes up to 29 megs.
- I open a tab and visit Digg.com. It is now up to 43 megs.
- I minimize it. It is now using 1.2 megs.
Now that was unexpected. Clearly Safari only uses memory it knows is freely available, and then releases it back as soon as it recognizes it is no longer needed. In a limited environment such as the iPhone, I can see why this sort of streamlined memory management is ideal.
So despite there being a few hiccups in the (still Beta) browser, I am, overall, very impressed with its quality.