1

There are some discussions of this topic on the internet but I'm looking for something objective and technical like the Stack Exchange community is generally quite good at.

I've resisted the smartphone and tablet wave thus far but will probably buy my first Android device soon and start developing for the platform.

I much prefer Android's openness to Apple's walled garden. But the thing that bothers me most is that iOS is silky smooth and Android is not, even on pretty powerful devices with multiple CPU and graphics cores.

Is this something that's already overcome in newer Android or that is really on a problem on older/cheaper devices? Or is it inherent due to Android being fully multitasking and based on Unix?

Edit (In response to the possibility that this question invites opinion based answers) :

This question is not intended to be opinion based but rather to gather information on real differences in software or hardware that are responsible for the large differences in test results of factors such as Touch screen responsiveness, and rendering speed of UI elements of the Android and iOS operating systems.

Expected answer:

  • Answer that pinpoints exact differences in software implementations and reasons for doing so that have lead to disparities in responsiveness
  • Differences in specific hardware (such as the touch screen) that can be a cause
  • All backed up with actual test results if possible
  • Any other relevant and well defined causes/reasons
  • 1
    Related: How do I know if an Android tablet supports Project Butter? / Are there any benchmarking apps that measure how smooth scrolling is on a certain device? I remember another specific one, but unfortunately cannot find it currently... "Project Butter" is the keyword here, which worked a lot on "smoothness" :) – Izzy Jan 30 '14 at 7:54
  • 1
    This really isn't a good question for this site. The questions that work best here are about a specific problem to be overcome that has a definitive solution. This seems to be more an invitation to start a discussion, which is not what this site is for. – ale Jan 30 '14 at 13:01
  • 1
    Well I don't want a discussion actually. I want to know the actual reasons, not opinions or anything fuzzy. This is a major issue with Android and there should be ways to question it objectively. I think the answers with links containing discussions are such good ways. – hippietrail Jan 30 '14 at 19:17
  • 1
    If you want to know an actual reason, you need to ask about an actual faster or slower operation, with numbers on a real device. There can't be a technical answer to "why does X feel faster than Y?" – Dan Hulme Jan 31 '14 at 13:05
  • 1
    This question only attracts low quality technical answers, because most people don't understand the complexity of such a software system. It starts with Android being an open system that needs to run on different hardware, from low-end to high-end, compared to iOS coming from the same manufacturer that also controls the hardware. In my opinion Android is just as smooth as iOS. And I don't see how this question is helpful to future visitors. I am pretty sure the company behind Android will ensure that it stays competitive if there would be a significantly drawback. – Flow Feb 1 '14 at 15:35
5

There is an article that discusses the semi-technical reasons/issues that have lead to the differences in smoothness of Android and iPhone devices.

But after gathering some key points from the article one can conclude:

  • From the very start, IOS had been built around a multi-touch screen (meaning IOS had been built from the gound up to be very responsive as opposed to most other OSs that adopted full screen multi-touch displays)
  • Yes, it is not always hardware (processing power) dependent it is merely a result of IOS operating system giving more priority to UI rendering, etc where as Android distributes the processing power equaly (this may be an advantage or drawback as with a faster UI everything from download speeds to loading content will slow down)

    • UI rendering occurs on the main thread of an app
    • UI rendering has normal priority
  • Android is very popularly known to be highly customization and it is simply a matter of tweaking kernel parameters like 'lowmemkiller' that can make UI:

    amazingly smooth -- easily as smooth as the iPhone or WP7 phones

  • It is not that Android lacks the potential, but simply that developers prefer to spend resources elsewhere (like on the bigger screens of some devices). Then why doesn't Android spend more resources on UI?

    • Well, Android is widely distributed among a wide variety of devices, and that is exactly why when it comes to android, only individual owners can overcome these (there is no optimum setting Android developers can set... every device that runs Android has its own set of 'optimum settings' and every user has his own perspective on what they should be 'optimum settings'). So the solution, balance the power...

    • And no it is not something that has been 'overcome' on newer Android devices. But it depends on what you mean by overcome, as the lowmemkiller of rooted android devices can easily be tweaked (but it comes as a cost to battery,etc...)

For more technicality, see Dianne Hackborn and Andrew Munn

  • Actually I wasn't expecting it would be something an individual device owner could overcome, but whether the Android OS developers have a plan to overcome it in future OS versions or if they claim it is how it is for valid reasons that will not go away. For example. – hippietrail Jan 30 '14 at 19:20
  • The beauty is that when it comes to something as open as the Android OS there is no clear boundary between the users and the developers! – reubenjohn Jan 30 '14 at 20:06
  • 4
    Project butter: smoother UI, massive RAM hog, Project Svelte: trying to undo the butter mess. They're going one step forward then one back again with this. Throw in horrible OEM skins like Samsung Touchwiz and you are left with VERY under optimised UI at the end of it all. Stock KitKat on the S4 is extremely smooth and responsive and maintains a 60fps for me with nearly all UI interactions. It's just the fragmented, overlaid, multiple devices mess that has emerged into the ecosystem that Google are now trying to undo starting with KitKat. Perhaps the new Android Runtime (ART) will help. – RossC Jan 31 '14 at 12:12

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.