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Passing two important WebXPRT milestones

Over the past few months, we’ve been excited to see a substantial increase in the total number of completed WebXPRT runs. To put the increase in perspective, we had more total WebXPRT runs last month alone (40,453) than we had in the first two years WebXPRT was available (36,674)! This boost has helped us to reach two important milestones as we close in on the end of 2023.

The first milestone is that the number of WebXPRT 4 runs per month now exceeds the number of WebXPRT 3 runs per month. When we release a new version of an XPRT benchmark, it can take a while for users to transition from using the older version. For OEM labs and tech journalists, adding a new benchmark to their testing suite often involves a significant investment in back testing and gathering enough test data for meaningful comparisons. When the older version of the benchmark has been very successful, adoption of the new version can take longer. WebXPRT 3 has been remarkably popular around the world, so we’re excited to see WebXPRT 4 gain traction and take the lead even as the total number of WebXPRT runs increases each month. The chart below shows the number of WebXPRT runs per month for each version of WebXPRT over the past ten years. WebXPRT 4 usage first surpassed WebXPRT 3 in August of this year, and after looking at data for the last three months, we think its lead is here to stay.

The second important milestone is the cumulative number of WebXPRT runs, which recently passed 1.25 million, as the chart below shows. For us, this moment represents more than a numerical milestone. For a benchmark to succeed, developers need the trust and support of the benchmarking community. WebXPRT’s consistent year-over-year growth tells us that the benchmark continues to hold value for manufacturers, OEM labs, the tech press, and end users. We see it as a sign of trust that folks repeatedly return to the benchmark for reliable performance metrics. We’re grateful for that trust, and for everyone that has contributed to the WebXPRT development process over the years.

We look forward to seeing how far WebXPRT’s reach can extend in 2024! If you have any questions or comments about using WebXPRT, let us know!

Justin

Support for MobileXPRT 3 will likely end soon

In a past blog post, we discussed our plan to move several older versions of XPRT benchmarks to an XPRT archive page. Some of those legacy XPRTs still function correctly, and testers occasionally use them, but a few no longer work on the latest versions of the operating systems or browsers that we designed them to test. With the archive page, we can prevent potential confusion for new users who visit current XPRT pages, but still provide longtime users with continued access to old tests.

You can find more information about the XPRTs that we’ll be moving to the archive page here, but today, we want to let MobileXPRT users know that there’s a high likelihood that MobileXPRT 3 will be joining the list of archived XPRTs in the very near future. The Google Play Store has notified us that, due to evolving requirements for apps in newer versions of Android, we must update our MobileXPRT 3 app package to target an Android API level within one year of the latest Android release. If we don’t update the app to meet that requirement by November 1, users will no longer be able to access MobileXPRT 3 through the Google Play Store.

Though a small number of labs and reviewers still use MobileXPRT 3 to test phones and tablets around the world, we don’t feel current usage is high enough for us to justify committing resources to an update at this point. We had hoped that even if MobileXPRT 3 became inaccessible via the Google Play Store, it would still be possible to sideload the app for testing on newer Android devices. After experimenting with installation options in the lab, however, we think it’s likely that settings on devices running Android 11 and up will prevent both Google Play and sideload installations after November 1. The situation may change, but right now, we don’t expect any method to work after that date. If you try, you’ll likely encounter a message during the installation process that says, “This app was built for an older version of Android and may not work properly. Try checking for updates, or contact the developer.” If you attempt to continue the installation process after that message appears, the app will crash.

Both Android and Chrome developers know that the respective stores sometimes extend these types of deadlines. We hope that will be the case here, but we have no information that would lead us to anticipate an extension. If there is no extension, we will still make MobileXPRT 3 available for testing on older Android devices, but we will then have to move it to the XPRT archive page.

We’re grateful for everyone who has used MobileXPRT 3 in the past, and we apologize for any convenience this change may cause. If you have any questions or concerns about MobileXPRT 3 access, please let us know

Justin

An update on the issue with WebXPRT 4 in iOS 17

Recently, we informed XPRT blog readers that after updating Apple iPhones and iPads to iOS and iPadOS 17, respectively, we began to see WebXPRT 4 failures on those devices. In the Safari and Google Chrome browsers, WebXPRT 4 test runs were freezing while running the Encrypt Notes and OCR Scan workload. We were able to replicate the issue on every iOS/iPadOS 17 device we tested, and we also confirmed that WebXPRT 4 continues to run without issues on other non-iOS platforms.

Our team has been investigating the situation, and we’ve made some progress. It’s clear that the failed test runs are getting stuck when the WASM-based Tesseract.js Optical Character Recognition (OCR) engine attempts to scan a shopping receipt. During our research, we’ve discovered an issue when the current Tesseract.js engine runs on iOS 17. This issue is broader than WebXPRT 4, and the Tesseract team is aware of the problem. Future versions of iOS 17 or later versions of Tesseract.js may include fixes for the problem, but unfortunately, we don’t know whether or when a fix will be available.

We’re currently investigating possible workarounds for the problem, and hope to be able to start testing soon. Our goal is that any solution we implement will not significantly affect existing WebXPRT 4 scores on non-iOS 17 platforms.

We will continue to share any substantive progress updates with readers here in the blog. Once again, we apologize for any inconvenience this issue causes for WebXPRT 4 users, and we appreciate your patience while we work toward a solution. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

A bit of house cleaning at BenchmarkXPRT.com

When we’ve released a new version of an XPRT benchmark app, it’s been our practice for many years to maintain a link to the previous version on the benchmark’s main page. For example, visitors can start on the WebXPRT 4 homepage at WebXPRT.com and follow links to access WebXPRT 3, WebXPRT 2015, and WebXPRT 2013. Historically, we’ve maintained these links because labs and tech reviewers usually take a while to introduce a new benchmark to their testing suite. Continued access to the older benchmarks also allows users to quickly compare new devices to old devices without retesting everything.

That being said, several of the XPRT pages currently contain links to benchmarks that we no longer actively support. Some of those benchmarks still function correctly, and testers occasionally use them, but a few no longer work on the latest versions of the operating systems or browsers that we designed them to test. While we want to continue to provide a way for longtime XPRT users to access legacy XPRTs,  we also want to avoid potential confusion for new users. We believe our best way forward is to archive older tests in a separate part of the site.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be moving several legacy XPRT benchmarks to an archive section of the site. Once the new section is ready, we’ll link to it from the Extras drop-down menu at the top of BenchmarkXPRT.com. The benchmarks will still be available in the archive, but we will not actively support them or directly link to them from the homepages of active XPRTs.

During this process, we’ll move the following benchmarks to the archive section:

  • WebXPRT 2015 and 2013
  • CrXPRT 2015
  • HDXPRT 2014
  • TouchXPRT 2014
  • MobileXPRT 2015 and 2013

If you have any questions or concerns about the archive process or access to legacy XPRTs, please let us know

Justin

Exploring the XPRT white paper library

As part of our commitment to publishing reliable, unbiased benchmarks, we strive to make the XPRT development process as transparent as possible. In the technology assessment industry, it’s not unusual for people to claim that any given benchmark contains hidden biases, so we take preemptive steps to address this issue by publishing XPRT benchmark source code, detailed system disclosures and test methodologies, and in-depth white papers. Today, we’re focusing on the XPRT white paper library.

The XPRT white paper library currently contains 21 white papers that we’ve published over the last 12 years. We started publishing white papers to provide XPRT users with more information about how we design our benchmarks, why we make certain development decisions, and how the benchmarks work. If you have questions about any aspect of one of the XPRT benchmarks, the white paper library is a great place to find some answers.

For example, the Exploring WebXPRT 4 white paper describes the design and structure of WebXPRT 4, including detailed information about the benchmark’s harness, HTML5 and WebAssembly (WASM) capability checks, and the structure of the performance test workloads. It also includes explanations of the benchmark’s scoring methodology, how to automate tests, and how to submit results for publication.

The companion WebXPRT 4 results calculation white paper explains the formulas that WebXPRT 4 uses to calculate the individual workload scenario scores and overall score, provides an overview of the statistical techniques WebXPRT uses to translate raw timings into scores, and explains the benchmark’s confidence interval and how it differs from typical benchmark variability. To supplement the white paper’s discussion of the results calculation process, we published a results calculation spreadsheet that shows the raw data from a sample test run and reproduces the exact calculations WebXPRT uses to produce test scores.

We hope that the XPRT white paper library will prove to be a useful resource for you. If you have questions about any of our white papers, or suggestions for topics that you’d like us to cover in possible future white papers, please let us know!

Justin

Check out the WebXPRT 4 results viewer

New visitors to our site may not be aware of the WebXPRT 4 results viewer and how to use it. The viewer provides WebXPRT 4 users with an interactive, information-packed way to browse test results that is not available for earlier versions of the benchmark. With the viewer, users can explore all of the PT-curated results that we’ve published on WebXPRT.com, find more detailed information about those results, and compare results from different devices. The viewer currently displays over 460 results, and we add new entries each week.

The screenshot below shows the tool’s default display. Each vertical bar in the graph represents the overall score of a single test result, with bars arranged from lowest to highest. To view a single result in detail, the user hovers over a bar until it turns white and a small popup window displays the basic details of the result. If the user clicks to select the highlighted bar, the bar turns dark blue, and the dark blue banner at the bottom of the viewer displays additional details about that result.

In the example above, the banner shows the overall score (227), the score’s percentile rank (66th) among the scores in the current display, the name of the test device, and basic hardware disclosure information. If the source of the result is PT, users can click the Run info button to see the run’s individual workload scores. If the source is an external publisher, users can click the Source link to navigate to the original site.

The viewer includes a drop-down menu that lets users quickly filter results by major device type categories, and a tab that with additional filtering options, such as browser type, processor vendor, and result source. The screenshot below shows the viewer after I used the device type drop-down filter to select only desktops.

The screenshot below shows the viewer as I use the filter tab to explore additional filter options, such processor vendor.

The viewer also lets users pin multiple specific runs, which is helpful for making side-by-side comparisons. The screenshot below shows the viewer after I pinned four runs and viewed them on the Pinned runs screen.

The screenshot below shows the viewer after I clicked the Compare runs button. The overall and individual workload scores of the pinned runs appear in a table.

We’re excited about the WebXPRT 4 results viewer, and we want to hear your feedback. Are there features you’d really like to see, or ways we can improve the viewer? Please let us know, and send us your latest test results!

Justin

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