Apple undermining Web Apps in App Store push claim developers

Apple has been accused of undermining web app performance in an attempt to pressure developers into coding for its App Store, selectively enabling JavaScript engines in and out of the mobile Safari browser so that web apps launched from the homescreen are penalized. Web apps run in Safari, The Register discovered, are 2-2.5x faster than those run from the homescreen, as they get to use the new Nitro JavaScript engine included in iOS 4.3.

"Apple is basically using subtle defects to make web apps appear to be low quality" one unnamed developer suggests, "even when they claim HTML5 is a fully supported platform." Home screen web apps also lack access to the HTML5 Application Cache, and are rendered with the older "synchronous mode" system instead of the newer "asynchronous mode."

Whether Apple has intentionally left web app developers at a disadvantage is unclear; it's claimed the company's mobile Safari team is aware of the issues – which also affect some of the company's own web-centric apps – but has suggested they will not be addressed. Calculated or not, it seems likely that more developers will look to the App Store – or rival platforms – in the search for the greatest performance and strongest user-experience.