5 Reasons Why Mobile Apps Crash
By Jash Unadkat, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - June 12, 2020
With smartphones having become a fixture of everyone’s daily life, millions of people now rely entirely on mobile applications for many day-to-day operations. Be it online shopping, booking tickets, banking, trading, bill payments, essential deliveries – apps are everywhere. This has led to massive competition among app creators and companies to deliver apps with not just flawless, but exceptional user experience.
It also goes without saying that no app is perfect. Since each app is used via a plethora of devices with unique operating systems, apps are bound to crash. These app crashes or glitches can be very frustrating for routine app users. This can be proven by the fact that 53% of people uninstall an app if it crashes or freezes, and 61% of people expect apps to load within the first four seconds.
Even if developers and testers cannot do away with all app crashes, they can certainly make the effort to minimize them. To do so, they must be clear on the common reasons for which apps crash.
Five critical reasons why Mobile Apps tend to Crash
1. Inadequate testing on real mobile devices
Testing is unavoidable. Testing on real devices helps monitor an app’s performance in real user conditions. This leads to faster detection and fixing of bugs. However, it can be challenging for teams to ensure comprehensive test coverage for their apps, given such a highly fragmented mobile user base. Often due to budget constraints, teams end up releasing apps that aren’t thoroughly tested on enough real devices and platforms. This might result in an unexpected app crash for an end-user accessing the app via an untested device.
It’s next to impossible for teams to have all the necessary mobile devices in their mobile testing labs. Using emulators or simulators for each device is also practically not feasible. In such a case, adopting a real device cloud can help teams achieve comprehensive mobile testing on desired platforms.
2. Poor network conditions
It’s vital to bear in mind that mobile devices have unique network configurations (Edge, 2G, 3G, 4G). For example, a few devices may support speeds up to 4G, and other devices may support network speed only up to 3G.
A developer may have tested the app’s performance over a good Wi-Fi connection, but an end-user is trying to use the app in poor network conditions. Let’s say a user experiences a change in network connectivity from 4G to 3G or 2G when they enter an elevator. This leads to loss of network packets. In this case, the user might encounter an app crash or a frozen screen due to a change in connectivity.
A solution to avoid this problem is to test the behavior of the app in different network conditions. This can be done using a network simulation feature that allows testers to manually simulate different networks like 2G/3G/4G. Also, an effective way to handle the network change issue is to inform users beforehand about the temporary network change and its effect on the app. This will ensure that users don’t get annoyed.
3. Inappropriate memory management
Memory is a vital resource, particularly for mobile operating systems where RAM is often constrained. With different mobile devices operating on varying memory capacities, developers need to ensure that apps are memory-efficient for a wide range of devices.
If an app ends up consuming excess memory in the background, it may lead to inefficient memory consumption for other apps or, in the worst-case scenario, an app may freeze.
Every app holds certain object references that need to be released for making memory available. Developers must ensure that only the required objects are allocated and released in a timely manner. To learn more about memory management, one can refer to the official documentation on memory management for Android and iOS.
4. The Agile nature of development
The Agile approach has become a standard for most development teams. It focuses on frequent releases of new features or updates at regular intervals for enhancing user experience.
It’s important to note that even the operating systems are upgraded at regular intervals. This, too, can lead to compatibility issues with the existing applications in case the new OS version is unstable or incompatible with the hardware setup or the app.
In some cases, the OS is stable but the user hasn’t updated the app, resulting in an app crash. These days, third-party services are often used by mobile teams to speed up development and provide additional features. But integrating these services brings its own set of complexities. As a result, teams need to test all third-party API’s and verify if there are any performance limitations for any specific platform (iOS, Android) prior to integration.
To do so, teams need to ensure that their apps are thoroughly tested for cross-platform compatibility. Testing apps on both the latest and legacy versions of Android and iOS operating systems will help teams to identify any discrepancies or bottlenecks.
Also read: How to test mobile applications manually
5. Exception handling
An app crashes because of a sudden exit in the program flow due to an unhandled exception. As app development involves complex programming, errors are inevitable. It may be due to inappropriate memory management or an unexpected change in the APIs, or a sudden drop in the network connection while communicating.
Exception handling is an effective technique for managing such unexpected app behavior. In any of the above cases, a properly programmed app with well-defined exceptions will catch such unexpected behavior and terminate the app’s activity swiftly, while keeping the end-user informed.
Mobile application development is an extensive domain. Developers and testers are bound to face errors, but that is a natural part of the iterative process that leads to the creation of a flawless product. Testing mobile apps is an integral part of every development lifecycle. Paying close attention to the points highlighted above and testing accordingly on real devices will make a notable difference in the quality of apps.