Amazon's Kindle Fire HD has a more responsive touchscreen than
But all of the commercial Android tablets are put in the shade by
The effect would be most noticeable while typing or playing games which require the screen to respond rapidly to user touch - such as Fruit Ninja, where the player has to try to "slice" flying fruit in half as it crosses the screen, suggested
The "minimum app response time" (MART) - measured as the time between touching the screen and a response being measurable using a laboratory rig - was 75 milliseconds on average for the iPad mini, against 95ms for the Surface RT. For the Kindle Fire HD, the figure was 114ms - compared to 135ms for the 2013 version of
"Basically we found that Apple's iOS performed nearly two times better than Android," Relan told the Guardian. "The findings were surprising to me because Samsung makes the hardware, but it was the worst by a large margin in our tests."
The tests were carried out using a conductive glove and using light-sensitive device to detect when the screen reacted to touch by flashing as part of a test set up by Agawi. It is not part of any standard benchmark; the company devised it in order to see where it needed to optimise its apps.
Agawi, which provides an app streaming service linked to the cloud, last month looked at screen responsiveness for the iPhone compared to Android phones and Windows Phone devices, and found that Apple's device came out ahead of rivals there too.
In that case the iPhone 5 had a response time of 72ms - comparable to the iPad mini - while those for a range of Android handsets including the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One,
The shorter the delay between touching the screen and getting a reaction, the better the user experience. By contrast longer delays can lead to mistyping at speed - because mistakes aren't registered until the user has typed more letters - and the perception of missed chances in frame-intensive experiences such as games, because the screen doesn't respond at the time the user touches it.
"It's hard to know what the cause is of the difference. Maybe Apple's touchscreens are calibrated better. But there's a software side to it as well," said Relan. "It could be that touch events [on the screen] are dealt with earlier in the processing stack on [Apple's] iOS. Or perhaps it prioritises touch input."
He suspects that Android does not give such high priority to user events such as touches. "Possibly this isn't benchmarked in peoples' labs. People tend to optimise their devices to measurable benchmarks, and the benchmark for this test hasn't existed before," Relan said. "But I think it will become a priority."
But he thought that the processing delay "could be a fundamental limitation" in Android's processing model, perhaps caused by its use of the Dalvik virtual machine to interpret code. Audio apps have suffered from delay on Android which to some ears has made them unusable for professional quality work. The human ear is highly sensitive to delays in audio synchronisation longer than 100ms.
Agawi tested the devices with the minimum possible number of background apps running.
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