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iOS Vs. Android: Which Has the Crashiest Apps? 358

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-class dept.
First time accepted submitter creativeHavoc writes "Forbes author Tomio Geron takes a look at data accrued by mobile app monitoring startup Crittercism. After looking at normalized data of crashes over the various mobile operating system versions he compares crash rates of apps on the two platforms. He also breaks it down further to look how the top apps compare across the competing mobile operating systems. The results may not be what you expect."
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iOS Vs. Android: Which Has the Crashiest Apps?

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  • I've decided to opt for a Samsung Galaxy Nexus Android 4.0 device from SaskTel when I eventually get a smart phone (subject to new models coming out from Samsung or HTC and sold by SaskTel), but that's because it's a Java-based system I already have the tools to program, not because I'm concerned about app stability overall.

    In fact, the odds are I won't use the thing to run too many apps if what I need is already included: email/web, GPS mapping and routing, and Java applications (including one I'll be w

    • Missing the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:26AM (#38934455)

      The $600 device's main purpose is NOT to make calls. It's an internet communications device that just happens to make phone calls. The people who insist that basic phones are just fine need to figure out this slight, but important, distinction. Buy an internet device if you want internet, but don't compare it to a phone.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        I'm not planning to buy a smart phone because I need or want one, but to have a device to program to support at least some segment of the smart phone market. Hence putting it off for now.

    • by StripedCow (776465) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:27AM (#38934463)

      I'll probably opt for a BASIC voice-and-text flip-phone of some kind

      What is the command in BASIC for calling someone?
      The closest I can think of is GOSUB, but I'm afraid that's not going to pull the trick.

      • by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:23AM (#38934775)

        What is the command in BASIC for calling someone?
        The closest I can think of is GOSUB, but I'm afraid that's not going to pull the trick.

        I think if you want to be pulling tricks, then you need to get people to be calling you. So you'll need to advertise your number with something like a "PRINT". And then repeat that lots of times to try and get past all the people flagging you on CL

      • by russotto (537200)

        What is the command in BASIC for calling someone?

        PRINT "ATDV12024561414" should do the trick

    • by darjen (879890) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:32AM (#38934489)

      It's more than just bad apps. I got an iPad a couple weeks ago and safari has crashed several times. I never have more than 5 tabs open. I have also had Skype crash as well, but I don't know how well that code is written.

      • by Soporific (595477)

        Safari is crashing for me quite a bit recently with just one or two tabs open. In fact most of the other apps appear to be quite a bit more stable than Safari. I realize that rendering pages from many different authors is probably difficult, but it's happening pretty frequently now.

        ~S

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        I agree, safari crashes quite a bit, but it seems to be on particular websites. I'm on my iPhone now typing this, iPhone safari works great on /., but some ad heavy sites cause problems. From my experience it's usually smaller blogs and such, most of the Internet works fine. Besides there's several other browsers available for iPhone, opera probably the best IMHO
    • by Bohiti (315707) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:43AM (#38934551) Homepage

      In the short term, I'll probably opt for a BASIC voice-and-text flip-phone of some kind, because I can't afford (nor stomach!) spending $600 on a PHONE whose MAIN purpose is to MAKE CALLS when I can get a $70 model that will take care of that primary function just fine for now.

      Its a common perspective, but first of all most people (at least in the US) buy their phone subsidized with a contract renewal, so the price for even a top-tier phone is $200-$300. Second, for me personally after using smartphones for a few years, I view it as the most significant personal (non-work) computing device I use daily. I definitely use it more than my home PC and tablet combined, and can therefore justify spending top dollar on a quality "phone". I won't make assumptions about you, but I know many people who found, when they get a smartphone, that its main purpose is NOT to make calls.

      • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:48AM (#38934895)

        but I know many people who found, when they get a smartphone, that its main purpose is NOT to make calls.

        That is so true. And let's not forget that, at least in Android's case, there's a built-in SIP stack so you can make cheap data calls. Of course, you could also run Skype on Android and iOS. There are a couple of VoIP providers (I understand that VOIPO [voipo.com] is one) that let you use your SIP credential on your phone. In any event, even if your main thing is making voice calls, a smartphone can help save you money there.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        Oh, sure, if I want to lock in to a $150+/month contract for 3 years to get unlimited local voice, text, data, and 10 hours of North America long distance/month, I can get the same device for under $100. But that's one HELL of a contract to lock in to in order to save a few bucks now.

        • by Bohiti (315707)

          Yeah but are you going to get the plan anyways? It does lock you in, but if you were going to get the service, there's no reason to not sign the contract just out of principle. And you can get cheaper plans. Me, for example, have organized a 5-line family plan on Sprint and pay what divides up to about $40 per phone for unlimited everything smartphones.

    • Going to spend $600 just to be cool? Ok. But lets be honest here, the iPhone makes phone calls just fine. Using the default Apps is also just fine. A beautiful user experience. It's only when people go totally gaga with the apps downloading every spammy, game demo, half-assed implemented app, by the dozens (or even hundreds)....then its not wonder things start crashing. As for QUALITY apps, there are arguably more of them available for iphone than android...then again, most major apps have versions for eac
    • I understand the logic. But my reality is not as limited as that suggested by parent post.

      1) I kayak in estuaries ("you are in a maze of twisty channels that are all alike...") and bicycle in towns that I do not know well. I needed to get a personal GPS as soon as I could afford one.

      2) My primary computer is my netbook because I can take it everywhere so it sees much more activity than my desktop workstation. Having secure wifi access at any park bench or cafe table I set down to has become important to

    • by crmarvin42 (652893) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @12:46PM (#38935307)
      This graphic is worse than useless. Here is a good debunking of it from a stats focused blog I first saw it on.

      http://junkcharts.typepad.com/junk_charts/2012/02/a-data-mess-outduels-the-pie-chart-disaster-for-our-attention.html [typepad.com]
    • by mgblst (80109)

      Fuck off, this is not your website. Go somewhere else.

      There is nothing wrong with wanting to use a plain phone, but bragging about not wanting to get the most out of a device is completely not-slashdot.

    • by hey! (33014) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @02:15PM (#38935887) Homepage Journal

      Bad apps crash -- sure. But *worse* apps may appear to keep working while storing up later trouble for the user.

      Whenever I see a list of software fault types with "crash bug" at the apex, I cringe. When I led a software team, I had to de-program developers who were trained that crashing is the worst possible thing an app can do. It isn't. There are many worse ones, such as leading a user to trust false data, exposing sensitive information, and losing or corrupting a user's work. The worse thing about a crash in the absence of data loss or long recovery time is that it undermines user confidence. It's often possible for a well-architected app to crash (due to programming faults of course) with no serious implications for the user.

      Crashing per se isn't a problem. It's a *symptom*. This is important! I've caught developers "fixing crash bugs" without addressing the real problems: failure to program defensively around unexpected conditions like bad input or inability to secure resources like memory or file references. I've seen super-general exception handlers buried way down on the stack which catch every possible exception and quietly attempt to restore the semblance of operation, even though they can't possibly know whether the application is in a consistent state, or whether it is holding orphaned resources. Programmers do this because they've been inculcated with the false notion that crashes per se are terrible things. This leads to hiding the symptoms errors rather than fixing the errors themselves. Hiding the cause of a crash increases the probability of faulty information, loss of data, and shipping a release with serious defects.

      So don't treat crashing as a problem, but as an alert signal. A crash in itself is benign, an honest recognition of failure if you will.

  • Long Story Short (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alicat1194 (970019) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:14AM (#38934379)
    iOS crashes more than Android (for those who don't feel like trawling through the (not brilliantly formatted) article.
    • by StripedCow (776465) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:23AM (#38934423)

      iOS crashes more than Android

      Can we sue them?

    • Re:Long Story Short (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:43AM (#38934547)

      iOS crashes more than Android (for those who don't feel like trawling through the (not brilliantly formatted) article.

      * for apps which use Crittercism's [crittercism.com] crash reporting component. That's important since we do not know which apps those are and if they are representative for the whole software catalog for the devices. Only Apple has all the crash reports across all iOS apps (and even then only for people who haven't disabled the sending of crash reports.) Maybe the jailbreak guys could compile some interesting stats, since they've released a tool to upload your crashlogs [greenpois0n.com] (Cdevreporter) to them to aid in jail breaking.

      • by DJRumpy (1345787)

        You would have to opt into error reporting in iOS to allow Apple to collect that info. It is not enabled by default.

        This report isn't particularly useful since it only represents a small subset of those apps that leverage Crittercism. It says nothing about those that don't, or what percentage of typical apps on a phone this data represents.

  • Android ftl? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by metalmaster (1005171) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:15AM (#38934387)
    I was expecting android to outdo iOS in the crash department due to all the variables in the android world hat iOS just doesnt suffer from. Namely, android has a wider range of handset support.
    • Re:Android ftl? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JAlexoi (1085785) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:21AM (#38934411) Homepage
      And Linux should crash more because it supports more architectures than Windows.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And Linux should crash more because it supports more architectures than Windows.

        If you have bad drivers, it does. Which is the overwhelming reason for Windows crashes too, and the background for this argument. (Nvidia drivers were alone responsible 30% of total Vista crashes [engadget.com], which is quite staggering)

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In the role of User, I don't give a flying fuck why Windows crashes more than Linux. All I know is that it does.
    • Re:Android ftl? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MtHuurne (602934) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:30AM (#38934481) Homepage

      Objective C vs Java might have something to do with it. In Objective C the programmer has to take care of more low-level stuff so the potential for errors is larger. Also the compiler will catch fewer problems.

      • Re:Android ftl? (Score:5, Informative)

        by WankersRevenge (452399) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:08AM (#38934693)
        We'll be probably being seeing the numbers shift as more ios developers start incorporating ARC into their code. For those not in the know, ARC is compiler optimization that handles object deallocation for the developer thereby preventing the most common kinds of crashes. People often get it confused with garbage collection and while the end results are similar, ARC occurs only occurs at compile time so there is no runtime performance hit. It's a big win for developers and end users.
        • Re:Android ftl? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:49AM (#38934897)

          ARC isn't a silver bullet, and there are actual performance benefits to modern garbage collectors that ARC won't be able to take advantage of. Its really just auto-generated retain and release statements at all the most obvious points where you'd need it in code. It doesn't protect against circular ref leaks, and there are ways to structure your code that confuse it, requiring you to turn it off for the entire source file. It is nice that you can turn it off for one source file but leave it on for the rest of your codebase. And unless I'm mistaken, its still deallocating objects individually when their refcount hits 0, not giving you any of the bulk deallocation speedups that a generational garbage collector gives you. Garbage collectors have come a long way. The runtime cost of performing collection has gone way down, and for all but a few workloads is more than offset by the more efficient allocation schemes it gives you access to.

          • ARC isn't a silver bullet, but neither is garbage collection. If your code is bad enough to confuse ARC (and it is quite easy to achieve this), then the solution is not to turn off ARC, but fix the problems in your code.
  • Missing analysis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geogob (569250) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:31AM (#38934485)

    I would be very interest to see the impact of jailbreaking in this analysis. Do apps crash more often on jailbroken devices? How does it compare between Android and iOS?

    One of the main argument for closed down system, putting aside the money factor which no one gives as an official reason, is stability. I do not believe stability is considerably affected by jailbreaking or by the subsequent modification one could do to the OS, but it would be nice to have statistics and some analysis on this.

    • I would be very interest to see the impact of jailbreaking in this analysis. Do apps crash more often on jailbroken devices? How does it compare between Android and iOS?

      One of the main argument for closed down system, putting aside the money factor which no one gives as an official reason, is stability. I do not believe stability is considerably affected by jailbreaking or by the subsequent modification one could do to the OS, but it would be nice to have statistics and some analysis on this.

      Depends. In the Apple world, "jailbreaking" is simply to allow users access to system services and data that they would otherwise be prevented from using. In the Android world, "rooting" is primarily to permit the installation of third-party firmware, something which Apple would never permit since iOS is closed-source anyway.

      It's been my experience that some of the better alternate ROMs out there are substantially more stable, and have fewer runtime issues, than the stock firmware provided by Google or t

  • One of the reasons for app crashes is the proliferation of mobile operating systems on iOS and Android. As Apple and Google have released more new operating systems...

    Apple has multiple mobile operating systems? Here i thought they just had iOS? Oh wait. According to this "professional" Google has multple mobile operating systems too! I must really be out of the loop. Maybe they should stick with just one OS and update it when they find bugs. Oh that would be cool! They could like call it the same t

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      right, and microsoft only has one OS as well, windows! Nevermind the different versions, service packs mobile, server editions.......
      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        Um, yes. Your correct. Microsoft has made significant, complete, total changes but still kept "Windows" in the name of their operating system. Considering the first version of Windows; Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0, Windows 3.0, wasn't even an OS, I would think that would be obvious. To say that Apple has rewritten iOS four times is absolute ignorance. To say that Google has rewritten Linux four times, when they haven't changed it even once, is complete stupidity.

  • When I owned a Motorola Droid, there were several times when I had to remove the battery to recover from the phone completely locking up.

    I don't have that option with my iPhone, but fortunately I haven't had the phone crash.

    • by arcite (661011)
      I've had to remove the battery on the Blackberry quite a few times to recover. annoying!
    • by KazW (1136177) *
      Motorolas are horrible, I had a Milestone for five days before going back and getting an HTC Desire. I had the same problem with the phone completely locking up. So while your point is valid, I would argue that it only applies to certain manufactures, and I have seen iPhones completely lock up as well.
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      I have had to pull the batt on my droid 2 before and i love having that option. Lets face it sometimes things go wrong. I have an ipod touch in my car and every now and again it will lock up and freeze on me. but the worst part is the only way to recover it that I have found is to wait for the batt to die and start over
    • When I owned a Motorola Droid, there were several times when I had to remove the battery to recover from the phone completely locking up.

      I don't have that option with my iPhone, but fortunately I haven't had the phone crash.

      That's Motorola. If you want a stable phone, try an HTC next time. I still have a G2 I bought a couple of years ago and it's never locked up (except once when I flashed the wrong firmware, but that was my fault.) And I overclock the thing from the stock 800 Mhz. to 1.2 Ghz with no problems.

  • by blindbat (189141) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:10AM (#38934705)

    iPad 1 "crashes" a lot compared to iPad 2.

    All testing by Apple is now done on iPad 2, which has more memory. So some of the "crashing" is iOS telling the app to free up memory, and shutting it down too quickly.

    This has made the iPad 1 experience much poorer than it used to be.

  • by fwarren (579763) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:18AM (#38934741) Homepage

    Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie said it best. Every OS Sucks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPRvc2UMeMI [youtube.com]

  • by Ender_Stonebender (60900) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:20AM (#38934755) Homepage Journal

    I was bored this morning, so for those interested, since the article makes it hard to extract this information:

    All iOS versions total 84.36% of crashes; all Android versions total 15.49% of crashes. The worst offenders for iOS are version 5.0.1 at 28.64% and 4.2.10 at 12.64% (with seven other version listed at above 1% of crashes). The worst offenders for Android are versions 2.3.3 at 3.86% and 2.3.4 at 3.65%, with 4 other versions listed at above 1%.

    • What i wonder is, how is this data supposed to be "normalized" as the slashdot summary suggests?

      It appears to me the number of crashes would be proportional to the number of OSes out there of that version?

  • by mysterious_mark (577643) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @12:12PM (#38935053)
    I don't think this has as much to do with Android and iOS as it does with the state of software quality in general. The current state of software quality is abysmal, since the shift to scripting languages and web apps as the primary platform about ten years, the science and art of writing robust and reliable software for OO, event driven, asynchronous platforms like iOS or Android has become an almost lost skill. Unfortunately failure modes for these platforms are more dramatic than for web apps, in that you'll likely get a crash rather than 'error on page' message. The situation has been further exacerbated by management's insistence an always hiring the lowest quality developers they can find, outsourcing, H1 B's etc. If you use low quality and inexperienced devs, you'll likely get an unstable and and unreliable application on these types of platforms. This should be a wake up call to the industry in general in that we need to focus and engineering, quality and reliability, and not just minimizing cost.
  • Wait, this study shows 3.66% crash on launch rate on iOS? I realize maybe my personal experience will not align with the data and all, but I have had iOS crash on me once and six times I've seen apps crash or screw up to the point I had to relaunch them. That is over a period of several years. I'm guessing there is something weird with the methodology here, perhaps not a representative sample? Am I truly that much of an outlier?

  • For starters, it's not the OS that crashes...it's the apps. Let's look at how many app crashes take out the OS and make it crash...not studied.

    As for the apps - Android is Java based - As such, it is afforded the memory protection that garbage collection entails - at the expense of speed. iOS apps tend to be natively compiled code. Memory management is based on reference counter - in the past, that was a manual process. Now, it's a little easier with the new XCode 4, but still and iffy proposition.

    iOS

  • Slashdot got trolled (Score:4, Informative)

    by CODiNE (27417) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @12:49PM (#38935337) Homepage

    This chart has already been torn apart on Junk charts [typepad.com]. Basically their statistics and reporting are so vague as to make it worthless. But yes, you may be surprised ... lies, damn lies and statistics.

  • by Windwraith (932426) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @01:24PM (#38935539)

    iOS has a lot of attention and probably has more first-time and low-quality coders than Android. If Android was more popular, iOS apps would be less crashy instead.

    It's common sense, really. And says nothing of the platform, only the dev crowds drawn to them.

  • Big Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rabtech (223758) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @01:24PM (#38935541) Homepage

    The article did not clarify if they removed the "Low Memory" and "Active Assertions Beyond Permitted Time" entries from the crash log.

    When iOS has memory demands it will kill suspended background processes and this shows up in the crash logs with a low memory reason. When a background process is running (not suspended) to complete some task (like downloading/uploading data, etc) and it exceeds the allowed execution time, iOS will kill it with an assertions beyond permitted time reason.

    Neither of these are actual "crashes" as you might think of them and in fact users are often completely unaware the app was killed because when you switch back to the app it just reloads its state where it left off (and well-written apps actually restore your position in the UI).

    If these two items weren't excluded then the results for iOS are worthless.

    The article also pointed out that iOS 5 is new and there are likely to be crashes generated due to apps not being updated yet and that Android is likely to have a similar problem as ICS actually starts rolling out (or people buy new devices when they are stuck with a non-upgradable device).

  • by SpryGuy (206254) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @02:13PM (#38935865)

    ...but the crashiest apps on my iPhone have always been the apps included with the OS. The AppStore crashes on me the most. The Mail app is second. It's very rare that any app that I've downloaded actually crashes on me. Maybe I'm just lucky.

    Not a trend, just a data point.

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