When I first got my hands on the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Silk Browser disappointed me the most, even more than the overall performance of the Kindle version of Android. Amazon promised us it would benefit from caching content pulled from the web. They’d be caching it at their own Amazon Web Services (AWS), the host to a large percentage of the net. Yet it seemed that their webkit-based browser performed slower than others – Chrome and Safari. Now there are numbers to prove I wasn’t imagining it. AnandTech did some testing on both the speed and efficiency of the Silk Browser cached with AWS and found that this feature actually slowed things down instead of making them faster.
Anandtech tested the speed by loading the AnandTech website, the New York Times and Engadget repeatedly. Averaging the various downloads they found that with page acceleration off, sites loaded faster than with the feature turned on.
Today there are no obvious performance benefits to using the feature and even on AT&T’s 3G network I didn’t see an advantage. From the perspective of the end user, Silk’s “cloud based” caching is not only meaningless, but it’s a detriment to the overall user experience. (Anand Lai Shimpi, AnandTech.com)
They did find that caching through AWS did decrease the number of bits pulled, helping only those with extremely severe data caps, like people on lower end smart phone plans. Unfortunately, the Fire only uses Wi-Fi, so such compression doesn’t really help very many people. Most people will be using the browser on home, work or public hotspot networks. Few of these services limit your bandwidth in the US. International users might benefit from this, but the amount of data saved was minuscule – only 174KB per page on average.
The extremely tiny bandwidth savings doesn’t make the speed hit worth it. So, I recommend that all Kindle Fire users disable Accelerated page loading in the Fire settings. Do this by opening the browser. Just tap Web on the main Fire page. Once it loads, then tap the menu icon at the bottom of the page and choose Settings. Scroll down till you see the option Accelerate page loading and uncheck it. You may need to restart the browser for it to take effect. You can do this by forcing it to close from the main screen’s settings window. Tap the home icon and then tap the settings icon in the upper right. Choose More and then Applications. Tap Browser, which has an Amazon logo. Choose Force Stop and then you can reload it by tapping Web from the main screen again.
I didn’t see a lot of difference either way, so don’t expect much. Amazon needs to go to work to really improve this browser. Until they do I will be using the LastPass browser. LastPass keeps a database of your login passwords for websites one signs up for. The browser seems to be a little faster than the built-in Silk Browser. Even if it isn’t it saves passwords for sites I log into which saves me the time of having to look them up. Remember to lock down your Fire with a lock screen password as we suggested in our article about first things to do when you get a Fire.
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