Mobile app crashes are nothing new. They happen to most app users, whether it’s on iOS or Android. However, app developers shouldn’t consider these crashes as the norm. It’s imperative to always strive for a bug-free application. At the very least, developers should be mindful of the following mistakes that result in app failure.
Failure To Optimize Memory Management
Apps should have good memory management. Allowing them to hog virtually all of the memory of a device often leads to crashing. This is particularly true when it comes to entry-level or low-end smartphones or tablets, those that have RAM smaller than 1 GB.
If you are developing an app for Android, refer to this memory management guide from the Android Developers website. Here are some key points:
- Android extensively uses a shared memory system. Optimize your app’s memory usage for this kind of setup with the help of Memory Profiler.
- It is advisable to determine the safe level of data the app can keep in a cache to avoid getting a memory error.
- Android is designed to kill processes in the LRU cache starting from the app that is least recently used. This process killing routine also takes into account the memory held by an app; thus those that take up the most RAM tend to be the ones terminated first. To make sure that Android does not kill your app (manifesting as a crash), see to it that your app is not hogging a device’s memory.
In the case of iOS, Objective-C and Swift (programming languages) have convenient tools for memory management. These tools make the management of memory virtually automatic. However, there are things iOS developers should still be mindful of such as the purposeful reduction of power consumption, the setting of low memory warnings, elimination of memory leaks, resource file minimization, the use of Core Data or SQLite for large data sets, and the lazy loading of resources.
Not Enough App Testing
In addition to memory management optimization, there are other aspects of the app that should be subjected to exhaustive evaluation. Apps have to go through simulated potential problems to see how well or badly they perform and to introduce the necessary tweaks or solutions to defects.
A single bug checkup is not going to be enough. It has to be repeated a few more times to make sure that the final product is good enough to be offered to users. Bear in mind that problems emerge according to certain triggers or the confluence of different scenarios. You can’t catch these in just one go. The issues may not have surfaced at the time you did the first or second tests, but it may appear on the third or fourth.
There are many tools created for bug testing. Some of the best options are Calabash, TestComplete Mobile, Robotium, Appium, Test IO, iOS UI Automation, and MonkeyTalk.
Additionally, doing alpha and beta releases and paying attention to the feedbacks is important to find any remaining bugs with the help of actual users of the app. It can eat up time and resources, but if you want an app that is unlikely to crash, it’s better to be thorough with all of these.
Poor Error Handling
It’s close to impossible to eliminate errors in apps completely. However, these problems should not cause an app to malfunction altogether. There are ways to efficiently handle these errors to prevent them from crashing the entirety of the app. For example, a large file transfer may encounter a problem such as the disconnection of the Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. This disconnection problem is not a defect in the app, but it can cause the app to crash.
It’s a must to anticipate errors like this, so they don’t end up malfunctioning your app. If you can’t arrest and isolate the problem, it would be advisable to just terminate all app activity (without closing the app) and leave a notification to the user. This is better than having the app crash, freeze, or terminate on its own.
As much as possible, get the app users involved in the handling of errors. As mentioned, try to pop out a notification or dialog box that show some details about the problem to make the users aware of what is happening. Just make sure that the notification or prompt is clearly stated to the user. If you localize the app interface, ascertain that the translation is accurate and easily understandable to the user. Don’t hesitate to spend on a good localization service lest you defeat the purpose of imploring the involvement of users in error handling. Users who have an idea of what was happening when the problem took place can help you solve the issue faster as they provide more detailed feedback when they post reviews for your app.
Unoptimized Network Connection Management
Most apps at present rely on internet connection for their complete features and functions to become fully accessible. Connecting an app online is not just about monetization through online advertising. You can’t just focus on fixing your app’s network connection to enable ads. Bear in mind that poor network management can also cause your app to crash.
A connection disruption in the midst of a file transfer or download can crash an app. Similarly, an app can freeze or become unresponsive when it sends data to a server (to get some data in response), and the connection is dropped. Network disruptions cause lost or scrambled packets that affect the operation of an app. For this, you need to make sure that your app handles network connection problems efficiently. In case there is a connection problem, it would be advisable to pause the app to inform the user about the issue and to give the user the choice of what to do (whether to reset the connection or cancel the faulty process).
Failure To Update The App
Another mistake often ignored by app developers is the lack of app updates. Updating an app is not only for the sake of introducing new features and fixing problems in the app. Changes in mobile operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, etc.) and third-party APIs have to be taken into account.
There have been many instances when Android or iOS updates, for example, have caused numerous apps to crash or malfunction. App developers need to watch out for OS updates to test the compatibility of their apps themselves or get feedback from users who have just updated their OS. These updates cannot be ignored considering that it’s easy for many mobile device owners to upgrade their OS to the latest version, unlike in the case of updating desktop OS in the yesteryears. Your perfectly operating app can suddenly crash even with a minor OS update or API changes in the web services your app is working with.
Addressing the points discussed above can significantly reduce the chances of your app failing. They may sound like simple issues, but they are crucial details that can impact app success. No app developer wants to make their monetization suffer or damage their app brand reputation by offering apps that keep crashing.
Sean Patrick Hopwood is a polyglot whose interests include technology, the Internet, education, and positive thinking. He is the President and CEO of Day Translations, Inc., a company serving international clients with a wide range of language services including translation, interpreting and website localization.