Dec 07 AT 3:37 PM Dustin Earley 200 Comments

Android may never be as smooth as iOS, says ex-Googler

android-apple Image via: laihiu with Creative Commons

One of Android’s biggest downfalls is the occasional lag throughout the UI. I’ve been using Android on and off (more on than off) since the release of the G1, and there’s no denying the lag exists. It has gotten better over the years, but nonetheless, it always seems to pop up when you least expect it. And unfortunately for perfectionists, it just may never go away.

Ex-Google intern Andrew Munn has taken to Google+ to unleash some knowledge on how Android works in relation to similar operating systems. More specifically, why Android will always experience shudder unless something radical is done.

You see, according to Munn, the way Android renders the user interface differs from other similar platforms. Android doesn’t prioritize UI rendering, it occurs on the main thread of an app, with no priority exceptions.

Munn breaks it down like so:

Android follows the traditional PC model of rendering occurring on the main thread with normal priority.

This is a not an abstract or academic difference. You can see it for yourself. Grab your closest iPad or iPhone and open Safari. Start loading a complex web page like Facebook. Half way through loading, put your finger on the screen and move it around. All rendering instantly stops. The website will literally never load until you remove your finger. This is because the UI thread is intercepting all events and rendering the UI at real-time priority.

If you repeat this exercise on Android, you’ll notice that the browser will attempt to both animate the page and render the HTML, and do an ‘ok’ job at both. On Android, this a case where an efficient dual core processor really helps, which is why the Galaxy S II is famous for its smoothness.Andrew MunnGoogle+

The way iOS handles UI rendering is still being hashed out in the original source for this information (apparently developers have to implement this kind of behavior, it’s not as simple as Munn originally laid out), but the comparison and Android’s behavior still stand.

Things like better processors and hardware acceleration will help going forward (despite what Dianne Hackborn says), but unless UI rendering is changed, the lag will theoretically always be there.

At this point you may be wondering why developers don’t change this and prioritize rendering. Essentially, Android would have to be completely rebuilt, causing problems all across the board. Not only would developers have to abandon any new features being worked on, but some sort of legacy mode would have to implemented since any currently available apps wouldn’t work anymore.

There a short list of four or five other things Android could do in order to alleviate any problems with lag, but again, UI rendering is the number one problem that needs to be addressed.

On the bright side, developers working for Google, like Romain Guy, are constantly looking for ways to get UI rendering in shape. It’s going to be a long process, but Google has some of the brightest developers working under their roofs. If anyone can get it done, they can.

Via: Time TechLand

Source: Google+

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • ph4nthom

    Honestly, I have more apps crash on my iDevices than on my Android, even Apple’s own apps are a huge pain.

    • itzxdjx

      My point exactlly!

    • Norm

      Lol what a liar. Listen, I’ve got an iPhone and iPad and out of the over 80+ applications on either, I may have had ONE crash, once. My Xoom however (even though I really do use it more than my iPad now) always hangs up or I get some random force close. Don’t try to be a hero

      • SCJaredJ

        I don’t normally run into issues on either iOS or Android, but since I updated iOS 5 on my iPod Touch 4, the browser dies/force closes 1 out of every 3 times I use it. I’m not saying that either platform is better, but neither one is perfect and they are both susceptible to apps crapping out.

      • Brandon Peters

        Why tell someone not to be a hero when that is exactly what you are trying to do

        Don’t be a hypocrite….

        • eric

          I had way more issues on my 3GS than I do now with android. Tons of lag and occasional crashes. Android has its own issues, but overall it’s a much smoother experience than I ever had with IOS. I switched for a reason and I won’t go back… 3gs w/ iOS 3.1.3 vs LG Optimus V running android 2.2.2…

      • anonymous

        Do you know why your comment is hidden?

        Because you’re wrong, smart.

    • AppleFUD

      LOL. . . last time I used a Mac I couldn’t believe how often it crashed–a completely clean install (OSX 10.6) only running apple’s own software brought the whole OS down, rather frequently. . . I think I’ve only had Win7 lock up maybe 3 times in well over a year.

      I started with a MacBook Pro back in the 90′s and it crashed a lot, imo apple has never been good at software. . . marketing yes but their software has always annoyed me more than any other platform.

      As for Android being “laggy.” Well, remove all widgets, live wall papers, kill all background tasks so you are similar to what’s running on the iphone, etc. . . and use a device that has the GUI hardware accelerated with a decent processor (Samsung or TI) and then compare the two ;)

      • Gazos

        Give me Ubuntu any day of the week. All OS’s crash at some point. I use a mix of Win7, Server2008/3 and XP at work and I still prefer to go home and use Ubuntu. Never could get into Mac by the way.

        IOS is noticeably better at the speed of UI especially when going from a game to the home screen then launching another app compared to android. However IOS isnt a true multitasker like Android. I live and breath android and things will only get better.

        Just hope I can get my hands on a transformer prime sometime soon!!

        Long live Android!!

        • Gazos

          Give me Ubuntu any day of the week. All OS’s crash at some point. I use a mix of Win7, Server2008/3 and XP at work and I still prefer to go home and use Ubuntu. Never could get into Mac by the way.

          IOS is noticeably better at the speed of UI especially when going from a game to the home screen then launching another app compared to android. However IOS isnt a true multitasker like Android. I live and breath android and things will only get better.

          Just hope I can get my hands on a transformer prime sometime soon!!

          Long live Android!!

      • Dave

        This is why you’re full of BS.
        There was no MacBook in the 90′s.

        You’ve never used an Apple product.

        Stop lying to people.

    • BiGMERF

      gimmie a break.. I havent had one single crash on my Galaxy Nexus yet.. Along with that I have had maybe 2 or 3 instances of a 1 sec lag. By far the smoothest running Android I have had to date. Things are getting better

      • J-Man

        I’ve had a few apps force close, but that’s to be expected, since ICS has been out for only so long.

        As for smoothness, I don’t notice ANY lag, and I mean zero lag, when it comes to even just scrolling the home screens.

        • LukeT32

          Lies! Why would you own an iPad and a Xoom?

          • dbest180

            Money. Choice. Insanity. Maybe he likes tabs and Pads very much.

          • J-Man

            I don’t own a tablet, was talking about my Galaxy Nexus. Wouldn’t really want an iPad to begin with.

    • Alexis Piraina

      Damn right ! I had an iPhone 4, 3 and 3GS and i find them very laggy in opening apps, switching between tabs, menus and all. I don’t even count the number of crash i had when i was using iPhones. I even got a white screen on an iPhone 3GS after using an app and had to return it ahah.

    • Josh

      I am not sure what apps where you talking about. The problem with these kinds of comments is that they were made by fanboys like you which are relative to the brands they support. Reposonses like these are never objective. I own both iOS and Android devices, as a power user I would always reach for an Android device but for everyday use, the iOS is consistent, smoother and has better made applications on its native market. Quad core, multi core processors is nothing unless a device is engineered from the ground-up.

  • YellowDucati

    In my heart its faster.

  • james bricknell

    never been an issue for me. i happily sacrifice 2 nonoseconds of lag for all that android offers over Ios

    • darkhorse166

      This goes back to the perception thing – users notice touchscreen responsiveness much more than application performance.

      That being said, I think how the app is written might make a significant difference – something like LauncherPro is never laggy at all for me, whereas others are a lagfest trying to scroll down a list. So perhaps it’s a matter of teaching developers to actually optimise their code for performance instead of merely functionality.

      • r1ch

        This is exactly it. Go SMS Pro is a great app that I won’t stop using, but it lags horribly when simply scrolling down the list of messages, and I’m using an Atrix with CM7.

        To be honest, it all comes down to choice again though. I’ll happily take Android with a micro-seconds’ lag over iOS or Windows Phone.

        Andrew Munn is clearly driving an agenda as well though, Windows Phone needs all the publicity it can get and involving himself in the discussion with the headline “The Reason Android is Laggy” when laggy is such an extreme exaggeration that it’s obvious what he’s after.

        • WlfHart

          Windows Phone needs to give up… the only thing my HD2 was good for was getting a great piece (at the time) of hardware that could be turned Android.

          • darkhorse166

            I disagree (okay, I’m biased, I own a WP device) – there are things Android could learn from Windows Phone, like integration of social networking services and UI consistency, just like there are things WP can learn from Android (file format support, customisability). If there are good ideas outside of the Android system that could be incorporated, I think it’s silly to ignore them.

      • Mike Lowrey

        This is basically really simple… Just use an async approach and let the main thread just do it’s job.

        In C#/WPF you can just use backgroundworker for all stuff that needs much processing time without blocking the main thread.

        Same approach would(and i’m sure some of the devs use them) help androis responsiveness

    • Bryan Stoner

      +10! This can’t be a more truthful statement. People overreact and exaggerate quite a bit when it comes to the interface.

    • Sean the Electrofreak

      Well, the article missed one other little thing; Android runs on a virtual machine. Even the best virtual machines will always be slightly behind pure hardware in terms of performance. That’s a small price we pay for being able to run Android on a wide variety of hardware.

      • faun

        That’s not entirely true. Android only runs applications within Davlik (the virtual machine I’d guess you’re referring to here.)

        • Konrad

          Ahem, the android framework (android system) itself is an application on which all of the apps run.

    • inviolable

      Man have I preached those exact words ad nauseum at this point. Sure iOS may be smoother, but many times that the comparisons come up, the exaggeration follows. It’s made out to be a dealbreaker, like Android doesn’t even function. If you’re experiencing THAT kind of lag, it’s likely your phone (or tablet in the Xoom’s case). I gladly give up a little bit of smoothness for everything else I can do with Android that the other guys just don’t allow you to. It took 4 versions of the iPhone just to use your own wallpaper.

  • Wayne Winkler

    I’ve always wondered why they didn’t make the UI or desktop a priority always having to redraw the desktop on Android on my OG droid.

    • dl22

      I practically break out in song and dance if I hit home on my OG Droid and I see anything! its a good 10seconds before the icons appear…

      • DroidSamurai

        I have the same problem, but strictly speaking, it’s not an UI issue — the OG Droid just doesn’t have enough RAM. That’s especially true if you are running a Gingerbread ROM (ex, CM7.) The lack of RAM basically forces the OS to purge its memory all the times.

    • anonymous

      I was having the same problem on CM7 for droid; liquid smooth 3.2 now, and memory is noticably better. The homescreen, when it does redraw, also seems to be loading faster. Give it a try!

  • WarDrake

    Well, buttery smooth would be nice, i agree. but functionality while still smooth is what android does and i like it!

    • erikiksaz

      I agree.

      I am fine with android’s slightly-laggier interface (due to the background processes that are taking place). Things are getting done while I’m busy fingering my screen.

      Whereas again, in typical Apple fashion, iOS just looks pretty on the front, with nothing going on behind it.

      The other thing about iOS that drives me nuts is when you scroll too fast you get that stupid checkerboard pattern. Load the whole page like android damnit!

      • Hazadriel


      • thechad

        well said

    • Jes

      Here here.

  • Alex

    Fantastic article! This is actually pretty enlightening; I never realised that there was actually a different approach to rendering that allowed iOS to be as smooth as it is. Even though it wasn’t really a negative factor for me before, the knowledge that Google is going to try to make Android smoother makes me glad, and reminds me why I love Android. If Apple was in a similar situation, they would probably say “hey, you bought the phone, try moving your finger less quickly if you don’t like it.”

    • Shadowlore

      Alex, take what this guy has said with a grain of salt. If you read over his original post, several noted developers have pointed out he’s not seeing the full picture, and doesn’t understand how iOS or Android are processing their UIs.

      • Jes

        Glad you said that. Here I thought I was getting an insider’s look.

        Oh well, it’s all Greek to me anyway.

      • stenzor

        Fair point.. I read his post yesterday when there were few responses, but now I can see from some of the comments that he is indeed getting a lot of things wrong

        • Healthy

          yeah, dude was an intern. pretty bold move to talk things up that he doesn’t completely know as fact.

          • Homncruse

            Just because he’s an intern doesn’t make him any less knowledgeable. He could be the world’s best developer — all developers, good or bad, start out as interns. It’s how the field *works*.

    • desean

      Good to know the difference between Android vs iOS on the UI rendering but I also believe the laggy shouldn’t be exaggerated.

      Such lag was obvious my HTC Hero but hey it is a really old end-low phone. Most phone today should be fast enough to make the lag not noticeable. At the very most, it is only a few seconds delay which isn’t a deal breaker.

  • TatiG

    yeah, Galaxy s2 is really smooth, I think in a few years, when duo core are common place or quad core, the smoothness difference will disappear. My Galaxy S1 used to be terrible. GS2, way smoother.

    • w0urds

      Agree, I see the difference coming from my Vibrant to GS2. It could be that I’m still on my GS2 purchase high, but I’m really liking this phone.

    • MontyX

      As far as I know, the Gingerbred is not supporting the dualcore processors. And on the SGS2 the OS is a 2.3.x yet, so I don’t think so the multicore CPU could cause the smoothness of the SGS2.

      • faun

        That’s not quite correct. Gingerbread isn’t fully optimized for dual-core – there are a lot of software changes one needs to make to make sure programming threads can be processed in parallel to take full advantage for having more than one CPU core – but it’s not like the other core is just sitting there twiddling it’s thumbs.

        Even processing un-optimised code on a dual-core machine, you get both cores working as for example one might be running the main app thread, and another might be handling backgorund tasks/notifications etc. It’s not as nuanced as it could be, but it’s still an improved situation.

  • jaxidian

    I totally get where the ex-Googler is coming from and why this is a problem. Multi-core CPUs will make a HUGE difference and will effectively solve this problem for us. In theory it will still be possible if you have all cores pegged, and we’ll still see it in dual and even in quad core systems. But once we get beyond quad core systems, it will be incredibly rare that you’ll see this problem.

    Additionally, if for some reason apps start becoming more multi-threaded (i.e. able to keep all of your cores busy because of some intense processing that you’re doing), I suspect that we may one day see some specialized ability to grant a single core the ability to be set aside for threads that run with a specialized permission. We’re not there (we could be if it were important enough but it’s not) but if it’s really a problem, well, it’s a solution.

  • Black Kristos

    Honestly, there are quite a few in the comments who take this INTERN to task on some of his points. I’m not saying he’s wrong, I think he is at least partially right, but I’d take what he says with a grain of salt. After all, by his own admition, he is a 3rd year undergraduate and never worked as intern with any of the framework team.

  • TinTin

    ICS has solved a lot of these issues and true multitasking has a little price solved with hardware acceleration.

    • Trinhbo

      How do we know that ICS solved these problems when most people don’t even have it yet? And even if it did, there are still those with older devices which may never get an official ICS update.

      • J-Man

        Having used the Galaxy Nexus, believe me, it solves loads! And this coming from a Nexus One owner who never thought his phone was slow (at least much).

        As for phones getting the update, well, that’s something you can’t really pin on Google, but the carriers. But that only applies to Americans, most European phones (seem to) get their updates nice and timely.

  • aykutb

    This is so very obvious in Sense UI but they seemed to overcome most of it in sense 3.5 on a decent device, i think it’ll come to a point that lag will only exist on technical reality

  • Shadowlore

    While it’s a decent read, I’m sick of all the news sites calling him an ‘Ex Google Engineer’. He’s an intern.. that is, a kid still going to school. He neither has a degree, nor was he a full employee.

    The fact that the iOS and Windows bloggers have latched on to this and are running with it (missing the facts in the process) neither shocks nor surprises me.

    Additionally, in his writeup, he singularly points out that Diana Hackborn, a long term developer on Android is wrong.

    On TOP of that, several other Android developers have openly come out and said this guy doesn’t fully understand what he was looking at, and they’ve pointed out why *HE* is wrong.

    Is Android perfect? Heck no. But he should also know.. when he publicly makes claims like he’s done.. he better have all his facts 100% straight.

    Any researcher can tell you.. it doesn’t matter if 99.99% of your facts are right.. if you get .01% wrong.. your entire research is cast in a bad light.

    • cthonctic


      The guy is a student who totally knows how to “fix an OS” way better than dozens of experienced engineers who actually work with that stuff day in, day out.
      Ignorance is bliss, is all I can say.

    • slimx30

      agreed. Some people are taking this INTERN word as 100 percent fact. Dude was an intern. He didn’t create android os. Yet people are taking his word instead of Diana Hackborn a real dev? Please people.

      he should do what he said he was going to do. get people to try and notice wp7. which is a bigger problem than the one he is trying to point out.

      • DroidSamurai

        He is an INTERN, but if what he said is true (and there’s no indication that it isn’t), it still won’t change the fact that Android isn’t putting priority in the UI.

    • inoozie

      This was exactly what I was thinking. I would personally ignore his comment on the matter. Or at least double-checked with other exprienced developers (not essentially Google engineers).

  • Futureboy

    As long as I can still customize the crap out of it in whatever way I see fit, then I am happy to live with a UI that may be a little less smooth.

  • Bryan Stoner

    I feel like Apple would whip out a lawyer as soon as UI rendering takes priority. Somehow Apple has a patent for everything, what makes CPU job processing schemes any different.

  • Patricio Acuña

    i dont mind, nor on the xperia or the SGS2 i have THE LAGS problem to be honest, it could be really smooth always on the xperia

    but the SGS2 … o boy, multri threading is the way to go.

    but IMO Android as a OS should be completed first then shape out every nick and corner of the rendering problems and other “defects”

    there will be a version which will be the windows xp to 7 leap on android, that will happen soon or later but it will happen and for good, because Google knows that the OS must be perfected and they are going that way… like MS (lol i mean it hahaha)

  • dcormier

    I just did the exercise he described on my Galaxy Nexus, and when I started scrolling it stopped rendering, like he said the iOS devices did.

  • stenzor

    While I don’t notice much lag at all, I think that Google definitely needs to rebuild Android so that UI rendering is done in a separate thread… and they have to do it while Android is young, otherwise it may cause even more problems in the future.. However, with processors getting faster and faster with every iteration, it may not be needed.

    • darkhorse166

      Wouldn’t it also be the responsibility of developers not to do stuff with the UI thread unless it’s for, y’know, UI? Admittedly, depending on application design, it’s not always the easiest thing to do, and it wouldn’t fit Google’s role right now to review applications based upon performance characteristics. (That’s what Apple and Microsoft do with their respective app stores, right?)

  • philippegee

    Apps constantly crash on my original iPad yet I seem to have no issues on my dual core droid bionic. Maybe hardware just needed to catchup for Android?

  • Torrance Barber

    It took time for Windows 95 to become Windows 7. Android is no different. What a wonder it is and what a wonder it will become.

  • Deeds

    Who cares, I would rather have a little lag before turning to iOS

  • ranwanimator

    You know Google only keeps the best and brightest. This guy didn’t even make it past intern. Why should we believe anything he says? He could have an axe to grind and be putting all kinds of negative spin out there for spite.
    Just a thought.

  • Dan Jones

    I don’t notice lag that much. I notice complete freeze-ups, and forced rebooting, but not so much lag.

    • we

      May i know wat phone u r using my fren?

  • Diaeko

    like you sad >>If anyone can get it done, they can.<<
    but this look like a huge problem to fix

  • Kevin Amundson

    Lag has never been a real issue for me, and I have rarely noticed it. I’ve been to thankful for multitasking and customization to care.

  • Carl

    I’ve written heavily customized UI for both iOS and Android and I can say without a doubt Android is as good or better if you do it right. I blame app devs for poor app performance, simple as that.

    There is no perfect system but using best practice and platform specific tricks you can achieve parity on all levels.

  • petraeus

    two words for yah, dual core

    look in to it sometime, i hear its all the rage these days

    • psipher

      better yet Quad Core (i.e. Tegra 3).

  • stenzor

    Also, lag != stutter.. what people are experiencing with the UI is occasional stutter, not lag

  • lufy0000

    honestly, i don’t really feel this lags…..iphone and ipads also have these. I had to force shut off my phone so many times i lost count already

  • George

    want it to be as smooth as iOS ?

    Disable all widgets
    Disable all live backgrounds
    Disable all effects
    Disable ALL THE FUN

    there you go, you’re now on iOS.

    • psipher

      so true, I guess this is the price we pay for true multi-tasking, customization, and being totally awesome.

    • integrate


      iOS has:
      1. Higher framerate animations.
      2. Quicker touch response.
      3. Less stuttering while scrolling/panning (usually through graphic intense media)

      This is regardless of how many features you turn off in Android.

      Android also suffers – in some cases – from a lower gaming experience because of the slower touch response (in those cases where you have to quickly move things around on the screen with your finger).

      These are not perceptions, but FACTS. Samsung has mitigated some of these issues to an extent in the Galaxy S II, but these are not inherent in the Android code.

  • E

    better the lag than a phone thats crap not even jail braking an iphone makes it interesting while android out of the box offers a billion options and if that wasnt enough rooting just takes it to an another level

  • nephalim3

    I would rather have my page keep loading and have stutter than stop working just so I can scroll.

    • Dlux

      Yeah, I kind of agree with this.

  • perlowin

    I have to admit, that is the 1 thing I like about iOS — how smooth it scrolls. Well that and iTunes (I like the way it syncs video podcasts much better then doubletwist).

    Hopefully as processors and GPUs get more powerful and faster Android won’t need a high priority on the UI.

  • Noven

    I’m fine with lag (to a certain extent) what I would REALLY love is better battery life. Everyone is working together to make certain parts of a phone better, except for batteries!

  • zyphbear

    This sounds very odd from an EX-google Intern. Smack talk for old employer?
    Though I wonder if the handling of graphics in the hardware like in ICS may fix some of that ‘studder’.

    I LOVE the picture. I need a stuffed Android! (I’m too big to have a backpack.)

    • Olek Bychkov

      He is not talking smack… He us just explaining the differences between the code and how CPU handles the ui animation

  • Fr354N3SS

    I agree, the lag time has been less and less annoying. Its still there but hey, they are always improving with every update. So i have no complaints. A little lag never hurt no one.

  • breinhar

    Obviously this is an over simplifed explanation but interesting to know.

  • xavier78

    Most of my “lag” is that an auto-kill/cleanup hasn’t really occurred and nothing more

    • Ilyse Rose

      Unless you’re on a G1 or Dream not on 2.2+ there’s no need to autokill anything. If apps misbehave use the built in task killer to force stop them but autokilling apps leads to worse battery life and just random problems

  • cvt2002

    android ftw

  • Francis

    I’ve got all these devices… iPhone, iPad, Asus Transformer, Acer Liquid E running Gingerbread and my latest toy the Samsung Galaxy S2 LTE and while it’s true and noticeable on the older Android hardware, I haven’t had lag issues on the new devices. My question is why are 3rd party loaders so much better and smoother than the stock loader? Why can’t Google implement the same method and end this issue?

  • jeroen

    why is the common perception that iOS has no lag?
    I have an iPad and iPod Touch, and they lag frequently, not to mention the checkerboarding in Safari, which I never encounter on Android and which is far more annoying than slightly laggy scrolling.

  • ArticulateFool

    I am still happy as I have seen this problem steadily diminishing over time.

  • Trinhbo

    Wow the number of comments claiming that they don’t see lag or think it’s a problem in Android either are fan boys or have their heads in the sand. Most Android devices, even high-end dual-core phones with 1 GB of RAM have this problem. There are times when you’re scrolling through the home screens and it takes a few extra milliseconds and then the requested action is performed. Try using the stock browser and scrolling up and down on several websites. There is a “lag” that can be perceived when you move your finger and when something moves on the screen. Then try pinching and zooming. The much older iPhone 3G will scroll smoother than this. As much as I hate Apple, they got the “touch” responsiveness right on their iPhones.

    With that said, I will state that I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 and this was the first phone that I’ve ever used that had scrolling performance that rivals the iPhones. I think Samsung got rid of the lag by using more hardware acceleration throughout their UX (TouchWiz 4.0) which other phone manufacturers have yet to match with their interfaces.

    Sure you can use a custom launcher but most of them are even laggier than what you’ll get from TouchWiz. ADW, Launcher Pro, etc all have this lag problem. The sooner we can all acknowledge it’s there, the sooner it’ll be fixed.

  • James Conley

    Small price to pay for the best experience there is. I wouldn’t change to iOS for and reason. My work phone is a iPhone (given to me by the company). I was not too impressed with it.

  • Trinhbo

    If you don’t think there’s lag, try taking any Tegra 2 based Android device and using it in any orientation other than landscape. Even holding it in reverse-landscape and scrolling will show some lag. Just google “Tegra 2 lag” and see what comes up.

    Some think that that newer/better hardware specs will fix the problem and it’s just masking the perception of the problem. I was disappointed to read that even the quad-core Asus Transformer Prime has some lag while navigating through the UI. How much better does the hardware have to be?

    • Kye

      Wait until its running ics should fix the problem.

    • galaxyalol

      i’ve found out the one main reason of android input delay.

      and that is vsync.

      just download the app called “Kernel tuner” from play store, open it, go to Misc, and slide Vsync to OFF, apply.

      bam, i got iOS grade touch response on my devcie.

      it must be something about the vsync that makes the touch input laggy..

      maybe its limiting not only FPS, but also touch events per second to just 60? idk for sure..

      where can i address this issue to google?

  • Fabio Rojas

    The lag is good gives you a moment to think if u really want to send tgat sms toyour exgirlfriend

    • donger

      lol, thats true

  • thekaz

    Well.. if an INTERN says so…

  • ToonPanda

    Yup, agreed. The feel of an iPhone is awesome compared to any Android device. But please, the iPhone STILL doesn’t support decent multitasking, has no homescreen widgets, barely allows apps to run in the background, the list goes on.

    With everything running on an Android phone at the same time, I think it’s normal the system responses just that tiny bit slower.

    Then again, my HTC Desire with a custom ROM runs brilliant. In my opinion, it’s mostly the GUI’s that the manufacturers created (eg Sense by HTC) that slows the phone down. The closer you get to Vanilla Android, the smoother your experience.

    • galaxyalol

      not really.

      htc sense 4.1 is running smoother for me, than any AOSP or CM9 ROM ive ever tried.

      see, even tho all my 8 homescreens are Bloated with sexy Sense widgets, i still cant manage to get lag out of it unless i underclock to 482MHz.

      -htc EVO 3d Running Viper3d and Anthrax ;)

  • rashad360

    So this is why iOS “feels” so good… I could never quite put my finger on why everything felt so smooth compared to Android, I guess this is the reason.

  • Jamie

    Am I the only 1 who doesn’t have lag on my Phone or Tablet?!?!
    I keep seeing these articles, but I genuinely don’t experience this problem.
    * Though I do run custom OC Kernels…

  • mrmrchris

    I’ve had a few force closes, but no lag to speak of at all on my G-Nexus.

  • myandroid99

    my phone lags all the time

  • IntlGrizzly

    That sounds discouraging, but I’ll take the benefits of android over a simpler and boring but fast loading iOS

  • dandroid4g

    my sensation lags sometimes but its still pretty smooth!

  • goncalossilva

    After reading through the article a few times now, most of the fundamental “issues” are fixable without enormous modifications. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Ok, going one by one:

    *Real-time thread to handle UI stuff*
    This shouldn’t be hard to solve. Since the main thread of the app is also where the UI work is done, and most developers offload work to other threads, I believe this could simply be solved by dynamically changing the currently running app’s main thread priority to real-time. It wouldn’t be as good as having a dedicated thread but it would considerably help.

    *Hardware acceleration*
    It’s fixed now.

    *Garbage collection*
    It’s much better now and bound to get better with each release… since 2.3 that I don’t think it’s relevant, but they still improved it in 4.0.

    *Memory bandwidth on hardware*
    Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG, Acer, Huawei and any others who might read this post&comment – you’re the only ones who can improve this. Well, Google could actually “persuade” you all to do it :)

    *UI compositing*
    This is the only issue which can’t be fixed without changing a lot of stuff. And even if they did, they’d have to provide legacy support which, according to history, is just a snowball of problems (see Windows, PS3, etc).

    The Dalvik is not perfect, but it’s getting there. I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the Dalvik and other JVM’s with a JVM guru and he kept saying that Dalvik is currently very good and getting much better each release.

    Summing up: yes, Android will have to evolve considerably to fix or avoid certain issues related with its UI performance. Most of them are already addressed/being addressed so they should be present for much longer. Others should also be easy to fix. I don’t really think that this is any kind of threat to the mobile OS all of us have come to love.

    • David

      The problem is that there is no separation between ui and other stuff in an app’s main thread. You camt give priority because you would have the same lag, just in ahigher priority thread.

      As noted in tje g+ post, the problem is much less an issue if you code your app well. I dev’d one and I cam confirm this. The problem is that not always you can asyntask everything. See the android market, for example: somehow its lists are horribly done… if they couldnt do, then definitely there is a problem.

      I think we should stop the denial and acknowledge that there is much room for improvement in our beloved os. Because android is better already doesnt mean we need to close our eyes and pretend its fine. I’m not buying the transf prime (nexus s here) after seeing the youtube videos (buying for convenience, so much harder to justify this kind of stuff)

      • david

        Ps. The denial part wasnt for you, of course.

  • sylar

    I love android I have never had anything but trouble with Apple products. iPods, iPhones, desktops and laptops that crashed constantly no matter what I did. I love my android phone though have have very few problems.

  • Marc’us H.

    I’ve come across more force closes on single-core processors than on dual-core. I don’t know, nor do I pretend to know how Apple’s A(x) processors work, or how they measure w/ RAM but I’ve seen less issues w/ iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S devices than w/ 3GSs. Those were pretty atrocious w/ crashes or resets.

  • Marcus Nolasco

    Well that’s because Apple pauses everything in the background if you even do something as simple as tapping the screen. Their “multitasking” is pausing every single app so that the one app you click on will work. Android is going to be as “smooth” as Apple. They already have the multicore processors.

  • MJM128

    And yet some iOS fans have this as their end all reason for why iPhone is better than an android.

  • aranea

    I still love Android and actually don’t notice much of a lag on my Atrix. It’s flexibility that matters to me. I can sacrifice 1 milisecond lag for not being boxed into a predetermined set of very strict rules.

  • kimminer1

    I use a 1st gen. droid and I really like it

  • Jennifer

    I have a Rezound and I have had no lag or problems. I don’t know if its because of Sense or not (people say it makes it worse but it doesn’t on this phone) I think its more of apps and the developers stuff that really make anything lag. Any problems I had on my old phone seemed to be when running certain apps so I would think it would have to do with that. Since so many different people program different apps to work with different phones I think that’s more of the cause. Just from knowing how things works. My Eris worked fine on just the android upi but once apps starting being made for higher end phones it lagged really badly. I am not expert but that’s how it looks to me.

  • RMXO

    booohoo, poor little ex-intern

  • Tal

    I learned something here for sure. Thx.

  • ihatefanboys

    The article on another site was more detailed…first off this guy “claimed” to be an x google intern (unconfirmed) and was “reportedly” working on WinPhone 7 software now(again unconfirmed)

    Why give this guy the spotlight in an article when his identity and job history are a big giant question mark ?

    But for the record Android has little to no lag, especially on the high-end models, and does this guy honestly expect us to believe that IOS has no lag, none at all ? Obviously an iClown in my book, just like iDevices never freeze or lock up(they do)

    To be honest, having a page STOP loading, as on IOS just because I touch the screen sounds like LAG to me…i honestly prefer the OS to try to load the page, if not slowly, even if im doing something as simple as touching the screen…

  • Nathan D.

    personally I think android is better since it better in almost every way possible (almost)

  • humidity

    That just shows how Apple never truly multi-tasks. It has to stop all processes because I have my finger on the screen!? That’s nonsense!

  • Michael Ian

    This seems like an issue that was relevant a year ago. With upcoming phones this is will be nothing issues of the past. Powerful hardware is becoming a norm in and along with ICS it will def. improve. However I do agree Android is not as smooth as iOS. But the claim “never as smooth as iOS” is false. Android is no longer playing catch up.

    • phaet2112

      More than a year ago since the G2x came out last christmas…the procs next year are far better than the ones this year.

      at least with android you don’t have to worry about phantom mail from 1969…

  • Theodore Wirth

    Hmm, I wonder why we are hearing this from an ex-Googler. Remove half of the features from Android and demasculate it like iOS and maybe you could improve something I have not noticed. All I remember is being tortured by a cranky PC and iTunes installation during the iOS 5 update–the reason that I sold my iPad and went Android. BTW, I have yet to need a PC in order to do anything with my A500.

  • keithp

    I wouldn’t want to disagree with an Ex-Google Intern, but this is something that can be tweaked in software. Might have to pay royalties to a patent holder to do it, but certainly priorities could be raised temporarily or some sort of expert system that would drop interrupts could make the wait/force close message a true rarity.

  • asifriyaz


  • falgun shah

    Well it has improved by leaps and bounds in the couple of years and we are yet to find what ICS has instore for us.

  • Me

    Oh please iOS gets laggy too at times and if any iOS user says otherwise they are a damn liar!!

    • jimtravis

      Totally agree. Constantly see comments on some general tech sites about iOS never stuttering / lagging, and the lag on Android is exaggerated. My experience with iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, touch) are they also lag / stutter at times too. Granted not that often, but I also don’t experience the lag that often on my Android devices either. As far as soft resets, I have to reset my iOS devices as often as the Android devices, and contrary to web lure, I reset iOS devices as often as I had to reset Classic WM.

  • alexandro meza

    apples and oranges.

  • Louis Atu

    I smell an apple spy in google or a disgruntled intern that didn’t get hired by google lol

  • GiqueGEAR_Todd

    I have far more problems occur with my Win 7 OS than with my Android OS. And NO OS I have ever used has been more frustrating than trying to help my family re-load songs they have purchased for their iPods from iTunes ! I simply do not believe that Android experiences any size or frequency of issues greater than that of iOS. I heard WebOS was awesome also …

  • Ilyse Rose

    I try not to fangirl around but this reads more bitter than anything. He was an intern and really who is he to say that the problems he brings up are huge never-to-be-fixed problems?

  • ffff00

    I’m not sure which I prefer, but I sure as hell don’t mind the way Android is handling the UI.

  • Billy

    Android is smooth … it gets more play than I ever could hope.

  • Anthony Massingham

    To be honest, my GS2 runs perfectly well. Now that devices are getting more powerful this is going to be less and less of an issue.

    I don’t notice any difference between my workmates iPhones, and my phone. In fact, mine outperforms theirs pretty much all the time.

  • antfelici

    Now I really don’t know which one to get. IPad or Asus Transformer Prime?

  • Avlon

    Try Espier launcher (ios) or Launcher7 (windows phone 7) on any recent device and android scrolls just as silky smooth as its counterparts.

  • Jeb

    interesting article

  • ncb1010

    So, you are saying that if you ran android on a 10,000 core gpu, with 4,000 cpu cores running at 15 million terehertz, 135 petabytes of RAM with a throughput of 99 petabytes/second, 14 gigabytes of L1 Cache and NAND flash with data speeds of 1.5 petabytes/second….It would still lag?

    • Josh


  • mikeytusa

    This article is destined for endless hating. Anytime you compare Android to iOS, the comments just turn in to a shit-fest.

    Can’t we go back to speculating about the Galaxy Nexus release, pleeeeeeeease? :)

    • chaboud

      It’s actually a fair comparison to make, whether it’s the cleverness of CoreAnimation or the occasionally out-of-order text entry of swype, threading and synchronization concerns are a big deal on mobile operating systems now.

      That said, this guy openly admits that he doesn’t actually have experience with this chunk of code, then goes on to pontificate pretty wildly about both iOS and Android’s operation. He throws out a bunch of looks-like-I-know-what-I’m-talking-about chatter but he’s just dead wrong on some of the basics. He’s an undergrad who just stood on a soapbox with his shirt on backwards.

      This guy should leave it to the pros. Of course, they know enough to not make such inaccurate generalizations.

  • chaboud

    No, just no. Please don’t listen to an intern on things like threading. It’s a dead giveaway that he knows less than he thinks he knows. Dunning-Kruger effect 100%.

    (programmer stuff below)

    Let’s say that we have a GUI rendering thread, only one, and we have an http ingest/parse thread. Even if the GUI thread pegs 100% (which would mean either expensive rendering or unthrottled lunacy), on a multi-core phone, we have the other core for servicing the ingest/parse thread.

    So what could be going on?

    We could have a locking/blocking condition, where data being directly written by the ingest/parse thread leverages something simple, like a mutex, In this case, blocking interaction between the threaded operations can still cause stalls, stutters, and sadness.

    But what if it’s a copy-on-write reference-based notification/listener system? Then you have the cost of an interlocked operation for altering the pointer structure, but you don’t have a significant block or stall. You also don’t have a scheduling conflict. When programmers use mutable and non-mutable data structures, they’re actually walking into a carefully laid optimization trap, in that mutable/non-mutable data structures are a tool for optimizing this inter-thread interaction.

    iOS operations for transition animations can be somewhat cleverly pre-hinted for duration and nature, likely affording iOS (I’m not an Apple dev, but this is what it looks like from the outside) the opportunity to run ahead, pre-generate some frames, and keep the animation smooth even when subject to transient interruptions. Getting tile-happy in Safari isn’t the same thing, but the guys at Apple clearly thought about a smooth experience on their opening hardware. It shows. That said, there was a time when OS X felt sluggish and Windows was highly optimized for the hardware of the day.

    There’s nothing inherently special about priorities that makes them magically unblocking. Neither iOS nor Android is an RTOS for user applications, and both are subject to hiccups, stalls, and threading issues. This guy is talking out of his ass, and, frankly, it’s silly to parrot anything he’s said. If I were his future boss at Microsoft (where he’s now going for his new internship), I’d probably rescind the offer.

    If you guys *ever* have a programmer BS-ing like this, and you can’t quite tell if it’s legit or not, please just email me. I’ll try to break it down to “go” or “no” for you.

    • Danerisms

      What no one wants to comment on Chaboud?

      • david

        Apparently he shut everyone up ;-)

        Good read.

  • cb2000a

    My Droid had terrible lag in the UI. My Samsung Ex2 (even after 3 months) is still as smooth as silk so Android can run smoothly…this phone proves it.

  • Clint Haynes

    And in other news, iOS will never be as open / free / personalizeable / cool as android.

  • Glenn Falvey

    we’ll see

  • Dennis Petrospour

    if you root ur device will be 100% smooth. Im running cm7 on my Sensation and with launcher pro my Speed is AMAZING. and now with ICS and hardware acceleration its gonna be SLICK as heck

  • eioous

    Still not a reason for me to switch to iOS(uck)

  • smwinn7

    I for one don’t care if I have to deal with a little lag as long as I get to have my android be mine through and through who would want to spend all that money to have a locked down device why not just get the free feature phone if you’re just going to take what they give you

  • Simon

    Ex-Googler? Seriously?
    the kid is a 3rd year UNDERGRAD!
    Did you bother to read the comments before you wrote this post!??

  • aranea

    Ask and Google shall deliver. It’ll get there.

  • djnumarv

    The android os will come google can make it happen.

  • Six8Six

    Smoothness and iOS or Freedom and Android? I know which id pick…

    Besides, these minor lags are exactly that, ‘minor’!

  • KatSelezneva

    I have been using an Android phone since a year, and I am quite satisfied with it. It’s a Chinese Huawei running on Android 2.1. But various iStatistics impressed me really very much, so I’ve decided to take a look on an iPhone. Of course, I tried comparing OS, not phones themselves. And I find the usability of Android (even 2.1) better than iOS. I especially like the possibility of customizing my desktop with widgets. My full research is here: A year on an Android-based smartphone vs. an hour with an iPhone

  • jk0l

    “Android may never be as smooth as iOS”
    And I still use Android because it allows me to choose my preference
    But looking at where Google is heading now (the Galaxy Nexus), I don’t think I will stick with Android any longer because they are doing exactly what Apple has been doing: Think their users are ignorant and decide what best for them (ie No expandable memory)

  • jk0l

    On the other hand
    Don’t you know that Apple owns buttery smooth OS experience
    We don’t want to get bitten by that bitten Apple, do we?

  • Darknight42020

    Never had an issue with Android that I believed to be a deal breaker. Been with OS since G1 and have watched it evolve so I have been happier with every upgrade that has come to pass. Android improves in an over-all manner where as iOS stays focused on one particular reasoning…how better to keep others from utilizing their devolpement. Android improves in leaps and bounds due to the vastness of the community and a large group of devs who put their heads together to say “how can we make this better?!?” and because of that, most of us don’t have to “settle” for what our devices are limited to.

  • Sean BillyMaysHere


  • oko loko

    IMHO Android will eventually prevail iOS because of open platform opposite to all linked to iTunes system

  • lekky

    So he saying android is better right?

  • marko

    Someone wrote here that as far as smoothness it is the way an application is written, to utilize the system. A Guy who wrote apps for both platforms I believe. I have to say he is definitely right as far as smoothness. Don’t believe it though, just download ubermusic for android, and scroll down through music, or side to side. after the scrolling stops 10 min later like a train pulling into the station with a cargo of wine glasses, and you’ve wet yourself due to sheer sex appeal, then tell me android isn’t smooth.
    as far as the overall system, I own a nexus s, smooth as butter. The odd hiccup here and there but not even close to the jerky laggy experience I had with my iPhone 4 that I used for 7 months and sold to return to android. I gave apple a fair go, just doesn’t compare to what we have in the android system.

  • nportelli

    I guess I’ve never used an iOS device and said, wow that is smooth. Sure my Android’s sometimes studder, but mainly when it is doing something else, like updating apps.

    If they are going to rewrite Android, get rid of java and throw in Mono. Partner with the Xamarin guys.

  • incrediblecub

    There is lag on iOS as well, I don’t know why this always gets blown out of proportion. There is a good amount of lag on Honeycomb devices, and I think with 4.x we’ll see a lot of that disappear, the Galaxy Nexus is extremely fluid and so is the iPhone 4S, we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves as soon as the Nexus gets available on more and more carriers worldwide.

  • honourbound68

    i have both iOs and Android devices. I do have more crashes on my iOS apps than on my Android devices, but unfortunately, I have more system crashes on my Android devices (where I have to reboot). Either way, I love them both.

  • Andrew Perdomo

    yesterday i got the iPhone 4s, and this is amazing compared to my droid razr.I love android, but IOS is pure speed and elegance.

    I had more problems with the razr. on my iPhone I have over 400 applications without any problem.

  • mikesuds

    iOS is awfully smooth, it pains me to say.

  • vid500

    I had lots of opportunities to play with the Ipad and Iphone, but what I realised is that may be the lunch of an app just seems smoother, becouse it has an animation of it. But when I compare it to my android devices (Desire HD and Transformer) I think it lunches apps faster or opens them instantly but may be sometimes not so visualy perfect. I’m a fan of speed so that this doesn’t bother me even a bit.
    Ok but I’m not objectiv becouse I wouldn’t buy an Iproduct couse I like to feel free if I have a need to put on my phone an Autocad or whatever other file, that has to go with me. (and it’s certainly not the only reason)
    So what I was trying to say is, that most of us android users know why we prefer android.

  • itzxdjx

    I don’t think this guy actually used a sg2!

  • Anton Spaans

    Dianne just posted a reply to this guy’s article:

  • smisa27

    This is quite difficult because both OS’s have their pluses and minuses. I am a loving Android user, but sometimes, I do get frustrated with my current CM7 rom when it freezes. And it’s not just CM7, because I ran stock for a long time before I actually rooted my phone.

  • ramenchef

    I had my moments of lag on an iphone 4 as well. Sure android has a few more moments than an iphone, but it’s so much more powerful as well.

  • Andrew

    Android is my choice but there are problems and the worst one is audio latency. Have a look at this Android dev forum :

  • daryelv

    There’s going to be issues with any OS. You would think Apple would have the fewest since they control the Hardware, Software, drivers, etc. etc.

    • Samar

      Well Said mate.

  • Leo Young

    I guess everyone’s experience is different. I finally gave up on Windows. Too buggy and crashy. Too many viruses. Applications on my Mac will crash once in a while but it is usually months between reboots. At one point, I am pretty sure that the only time I rebooted is when I installed an update and that went on for a couple of years.
    Having issues such as this one, being embedded so deep in the OS, is an issue and it is unlikely that it will go away.
    Having said that, the speed of execution of the processors and the advent of multiple processors will probably make this a non-issue within a couple of years. Couple that with optimizations in running the main thread and I am not worried.

  • Jerome S

    Sorry to say, but someone who is labeled as an ‘ex-Googler’ who openly bashes Android like this does not surprise me. Where Android lacks in UI processing, it makes up for in open-sourcedness, as well as probably a million other features. Being a hardcore Android fan myself, I’d MUCH rather deal with a bit of lag occasionally rather than be told that if I change my own battery, it voids the warranty on my extremely over-priced, closed-source Apple product. I take it as an insult that Apple doesn’t even think their users are capable of changing their own batteries.

  • zippyioa

    An interesting article however I am sure that as devices tech develops we will see smoother running UI.
    Dual core chips, more ram and better refresh management in the software will all help.
    Regardless, I would rather have minor lag here and there if the upside is he freedom and flexibility that Android brings ;)

  • Maurizio Bonelli

    I hope that Android will manage to recover the general smoothness of iOS.. I can’t wait to try ICS! ;)

  • pmex83

    The lagginess is really prevalent at times.

  • fenixshaw

    This statement reminds me of the fragmentation arguments last year and how it was going to hurt the Android platform. From a retail perspective, as much as fragmentation has been a folly for Android, its also led to some of its biggest success. Without varying hardware configurations, you wouldn’t have inexpensive devices that allows for more penetration into wealth classes that doesn’t exist with Windows Phone. iOS even has hardware differences that create instances of customer dissatisfaction, including locking up and lagging. No operating system is perfect and none are immune to crashing, lagging, or other sorts of errors. But those events lead to further development of hardware and software to improve the platform. As time moves on, I think this will as insignificant as the fragmentation topics.

  • awesomellamas57

    atm they’re pretty much equal but with ics android is going to be in the lead

  • Aidiakapi

    This problem is way too exaggerated, on my Desire (first version that came out) I’m never experiencing lags. I installed a task killer, LauncherPro and all runs smoothly and fast.

    We just got an iPad 2, and even though smoothness is undeniably better at the iPad, I have to keep in mind that in the computing world my Desire is antique compared to the iPad, but nevertheless I love android way better.

    My opinion has always been that both OS’s have their ups and downs. I personally think that if you know how to setup android, it’s close to perfect, while at factory settings iOS wins. If you just want something easy, go for iOS, otherwise android. Both are good operating systems, so stop fuzzing about thing’s like this cause android can be just as smooth with the right applications (take LauncherPro and QuickPic) even on older devices, I mean, older iPhones aren’t all that smooth either.

    Choose what you like, and don’t try to enforce others your opinion :).

  • Big Bad Waffle

    I use to have an I pad. I hated it and I sold it then bought tthe Asus transformer tblet. Best tablet ever. I still have and iPhone and I hate it. I cannot wait to get an andeoid phone.

    Nuff said. Apple users are ppretty much grandmas or rich kids that get erytthing from mom…

  • 0X00FE

    “You can see it for yourself. Grab your closest iPad or iPhone and open Safari. Start loading a complex web page like Facebook. Half way through loading, put your finger on the screen and move it around. All rendering instantly stops. The website will literally never load until you remove your finger.”

    iOS Multitasking “BUSTED!”
    Seems that Android is the only true multitasking mobile OS out there.

    I thougt it’s a bug till I read this post. I guess hardware will mature soon and fix the problem. Look for the ARM Cortex A15 powered phones this year. I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 and I already feel outdated, even before those mobiles are released/announced yet!

    • chaboud

      Both iOS and Android have the ability to background thread and run background processes. Additionally, whether or not to update rendering tiles while dragging is a *choice* of the application developer. The mobile Safari team chose one approach, the Android browser team chose another. Both operating systems are capable of providing either behavior.

      You should treat just about everything Andrew Munn said as suspect. A great deal of his misinformation has been corrected by current Googlers with closer ties to the OS. Check out Dianne Hackborn’s public response.

  • Anon

    Jelly Bean says hi to that developer. :D

  • Josh

    little kids fighting over which mobile os is better. get a life people. go out and live your life. this is ridiculous. nerds and half-lives fighting over topics such as these. how many of the comments here were made by actual programmers or developers.

  • afh

    1. Intern
    2. Refer to 1