The Web Browser

Google made some functional and performance enhancements to the web browser in Android 3.1. Adobe recommends that you have 3.1 installed if you want to run Flash 10.3, although both Android 3.0.1 and 3.1 will let you install the latest version of Flash. I ran several Flash benchmarks to see if there was any performance difference however I couldn't find any - both versions of Android seem to run Flash at the same speed.

Browser compatibility hasn't been significantly improved from what I can tell. Reddit's front page is still far too zoomed out by default and overall HTML5 compatibility hasn't changed:

Google did enable embedded HTML5 video on Android 3.1. In the past if you encountered an embedded HTML5 video it would only play full screen, but now you can play it in inline on a webpage.

The Android browser now supports saving web pages to webarchives. There's a contextual menu option that lets you save any webpage you'd like. The webarchive is stored as a .webarchivexml file in Android's Downloads directory. Chrome won't open the webarchive but you can view it on the device itself.

I didn't have time before boarding my flight to run through our 2011 page loading test, but subjective web browsing seems to be quicker on 3.1 than it was on 3.0.1. Javascript performance is a bit lower, although BrowserMark mostly no change:

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1

Rightware BrowserMark

The browser gains a scrolling widget on the right side for quickly moving up and down pages:

Scrolling performance seems improved, but it's at the cost of how aggressively the browser renders the web page as you scroll. Both Android and iOS only render to the frame buffer only a portion of what you see on a web page, when you scroll down old data is evicted from memory and what you're scrolling to gets rendered in real time. On iOS this can manifest as a checkerboard pattern if you quickly scroll down a web page. On Android 3.1 this appears as a lot of white blocks that quickly fill in with data. The animation is smooth but the effect feels unfinished as you can see from the video on the previous page.

I didn't notice a huge difference in performance while zooming but I'd say that the browsing experience overall is just faster than it was under 3.0.1.

Improved 3D Performance The Dock Experience
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  • uncola - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    3.1 running great on my asus transformer. youtube app plays 720p smooth as heck now. also it's just generally faster and the scroll bar in the browser is awesome, no lag at all scrolling top to bottom on engadget.com is worth the tearing to me Reply
  • Zingam - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    How about scrolling complex PDF documents. Zooming-in and out.
    And how about PDF documents of scanned pages as large images (non OCRed)?
    Reply
  • jalexoid - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    "THEY REFUSED TO PAY FOR SHIPPING"
    What company pays for shipping of items under warranty?
    Reply
  • khimera2000 - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    Dont know... but dell makes free house calls on my warrenty, and didnt do a shaby job to :) plus i got to see the inside of my notebook without voiding the warenty this time around :D Reply
  • robinthakur - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    The Acer is built even worse than the Asus! I think you were just unlucky unfortunately, but Asus quality control has annoyed me too in the past with DOA motherboards and graphic cards and naturally, the support is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    Anand, I am seriously hoping that there is some details on the upcoming Asus Slider at computex. I read some rumours about Asus changing the Tegra 2 for the new Atom, which would make sense, especially if they put a Win 7 device out.
    I wonder 1. how that will effect battery life VS the transformer device, and 2. how the GPU will work out in an atom based slider VS the Tegra 2 in the transformer.
    Reply
  • Mishera - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    I'm looking forward to the Slider too. I cant help but to wonder if this form factor is what intel needs to jump into the tablet market, but It doesn't seem like android is the os solution. Maybe we'll see some iteration of mameo on these devices in the future. Reply
  • unidentifiedbones - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link



    I think this says it all

    '....but it's amazingly competent for an OS with its roots in smartphones'

    Still an overgrown smartphone with very limited capabilities.

    Still waiting for a tablet that doesn't break the bank, with good battery life that can run a real operating system at acceptable speeds.

    Until that day all tablets remain very limited media consumption devices with little more than toy value.

    Until that day, my wallet stays closed.
    Reply
  • ishbuggy - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    Exactly what I've been thinking. I need more than a device built for consumption. Reply
  • Skott - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    I been wanting a tablet for a year now but so far haven't bothered. I don't want an Apple product. The iPad2 is nice but I'm so tired of Apple this and Apple that. I want something different. The Xoom was the first thing that had me tempted to buy but I have held off to see what else was out there. I'm glad now I did.

    The ASUS Transformer has me very tempted. The new enhancements makes it even more enticing. Debating to whether hold off more and see what the Summer/Fall brings. I'm hoping by late Fall there will be better Android tablets. The ASUS Transformer is very tempting though.
    Reply

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