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Xoom Gloom: Android tablet falls short in Vendor's HTML5 tests

John Cox | March 1, 2011
The browser on Motorola’s Xoom tablet is "not ready for prime-time," concludes one evaluation of how well the Android 3.0 browser conforms to, and implements, a range of emerging Web standards like HTML5.

FRAMINGHAM, 1 MARCH 2011 - One evaluation of how well the browser on Motorola's (MOT) spiffy new Xoom tablet supports HTML5 and other modern Web standards reaches a disappointing conclusion.

"The Xoom browser is not ready for prime-time -- even for 'HTML4,'" writes Aditya Bansod, a software engineer with Sencha, a vendor that created the Sencha Touch HTML5 application framework for mobile Web apps. "And it urgently needs a patch update if Motorola wants the product to succeed."

Bansod's conclusion comes in a blog post that details the results of a series of tests to see how the Xoom browser conforms to, and performs with, emerging Web standards such as HTML5 and Cascading Style Sheets 3 (CSS 3). The results, for both developers and consumers, are not encouraging.

It's a surprising result, because Motorola has been touting the Xoom, the first to deploy Android 3.0 (or "Honeycomb"), as the first "real" Android tablet. The 3.0 version was specifically designed for the tablet device class.

The complete evaluation is online at Sencha's blog.

Sencha ran four tests with a Xoom tablet: evaluating Web standards using Acid3, features using a tool called Modernizr, performance using the SunSpider test tool, and a set of real-world tests that the company devised itself.

The Acid3 results are counterintuitive because the tablet scores 100 out a possible 100 in the battery of tests, the first Android tablet to do so. In part, that reflects the addition of some features for the first time, such as support for Scaleable Vector Graphics (SVG), a group of W3C specifications for describing 2-D vector graphics in an XML file format.

But comparing the browser's Acid3 rendering with the official reference rendering shows two "noticeable rendering bugs," Bansod notes. First, the letters "Acid3" are the wrong color and lack the "shadow" effect visible in the reference image. Second, in the top right hand corner of the browser's rendering, there is an outline in red of a very small box, almost invisible in the resolution of the screenshot.

Bansod concludes that the two bugs are enough to warrant saying the Xoom "fails Acid3."

Using Modernizr, Bansod finds that Xoom adds a "fairly complete range of HTML5 features." Besides SVG, these include Inline Scaleable Vector Graphics and CSS 3 3D transformations. Still missing are Web-based Graphics Language, or WebGL, which extends JavaScript to create 3D graphics within compatible Web browsers; Web Sockets; and Web Workers.

CSS 3 animations, both simple and advanced, were deeply flawed on the Xoom. "We often found even for the most basic animations the browser skipped frames, incorrectly rendered elements, or didn't run the animation to completion," Bansod writes.


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