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Summary:

Which flagship tablet has the best touchscreen when it comes to responsiveness? Apple takes the crown with the new Nexus 7 twice as slow. We’re talking about milliseconds though, so most users won’t likely notice.

djay iPad Photo 1

If you think Apple’s touchscreen tablets are more responsive than the competition, you’re right. So says Agawi, which put a number of flagship slates through its TouchMarks touchscreen benchmark test.

The test measures touch latency, or the time between a tap and opening an app, using a special bit of hardware. While the latency is generally small — less than one or two tenths of a second — you can see a big difference between products in this output graph.

Touchmark results

Why are the Apple devices more responsive? My guess is that Apple has the most integrated approach when it comes to hardware and software. Android device makers might have hardware expertise but they’re still working with Google’s Android software. Here’s a technical explanation of how graphics work on Android, which offers a glimpse at why touch is implemented differently in Android than it is in iOS.

Nvidia may have an edge over others here — showing lower relative latency — because it developed Direct Touch tech that offloads touch processing to a CPU core and boosts response times. Although most people don’t think of Microsoft as a hardware company, it did design the Surface products and therefore has direct control over the hardware and software integration for touch on the products.

Nexus 7, tablets

At the end of the day, how much does this matter? To most people, probably not much. I have a new Nexus 7 tablet and although the TouchMarks data suggests double the touch latency of an iPad, I don’t notice or see any touch lag.

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  1. The latency only becomes apparent when you’re trying to keep up with a set pace or beat/tempo. The faster the tempo, the harder it is to keep up if there’s added latency.

    Music creation app is a good way to test. And one of the reason developers prefer iOS over Android (there’s a dearth of quality/quantity music app on Android) is that the latency- both audio and touchscreen (round-trip latency)- is more manageable on iOS.

    http://createdigitalmusic.com/2013/05/why-mobile-low-latency-is-hard-explained-by-google-galaxy-nexus-still-android-of-choice/

  2. The lag is alarmingly obvious for me. Especially when you are in an app and get an email or appointment notification it goes nuts. Whenever you do any operation that requires multi touch the lag is apparent. It’s not going to matter to anyone who hasn’t used an iOS device before. Let’s face it the typical user is either committed to Android or to Apple. Only the individuals who are in the industry that use multiple platforms will notice.

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