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Study: iPhones Crash More Than Android

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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Apple’s iOS devices crashed more often than Google’s Android in November and December, but the ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ update may level the playing field

Android took a number of shots at Apple’s iOS during the Super Bowl, courtesy of Samsung, and now comes another hit: iOS applications crash more often than Android applications do, according to data from Crittercism.

Crittercism, which provides developers with real-time, actionable crash reports for mobile applications, measured crashes between November and December, and in some instances found iOS crashes to number more than twice those of Android applications.

Crash competition

Versions have a lot to do with it, Crittercism chief executive Andrew Levy told Forbes. “The permutations go on forever. That’s a large reason for creating our platform.”

Apple’s iOS 5.0.1 was the most crash-inclined version of all, accounting for 28.64 percent of crashes between 1 December and 15 December. iOS 4.2.10 accounted for 12.64 percent, iOS 4.3.3 for 10.66 percent and iOS 4.3.5 for 8.9 percent.

Among Apple devices, the great majority of crashes were logged on iPhones – 74.41 percent – followed by the iPod touch, at 14.87 percent, and the iPad, at 10.72.

The most crash-prone version of Android was version 2.3.3, with a 3.86 percent share of the iOS/Android crash pie. Looking at only Android crashes, version 2.3.3 accounted for just shy of one-fourth of all Android crashes, followed by 2.3.4 with also nearly a quarter of the Android-only pie.

Partly to blame are all the incarnations of each different mobile operating system. (Developers need to test their applications on each version.) Levy told Forbes that hardware issues, such as GPS or the use of a camera, could also contribute, along with how the device connects to 3G or Wi-Fi or switches between the two.

Apps that use a lot of memory may also be more crash-prone.

‘Ice Cream Sandwich’

The arrival of Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, is expected to offer a more level playing field, as inevitable bugs will need to be worked out. Levy insisted to Forbes that, despite the data, iOS isn’t necessarily more crash-inclined than Android.

“I expect as Ice Cream Sandwich just launched and the new Nexus S phone launched [during the study], we’ll expect the same situation to occur [with Android] as what happened [with iOS],” said Levy.

In January, Crittercism began offering developers “breadcrumbs”, which lets them “get a playback of a user’s actions before [the] app crashed”.

“When a crash occurs, the breadcrumbs from the user’s current and previous sessions are sent to the website, so you clearly relate their actions to the crash,” Crittercism said in a 24 January blog post. “With breadcrumb data, you also get information about session length, since we automatically place a “session_start” breadcrumb upon instantiation of the Critter.”

Some users may call this intrusive, while others may delight in having their frustrations quickly shared.

Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi and Nexus S users have already received the Ice Cream Sandwich push, and soon the wait for Nexus S 4G users will be over, as well, according to Android Central. On 31 January the site reported that some testing of the OS at Sprint had been leaked.

“Sprint not only has more network testing involved in their version, but the addition of Google Voice integration and Google Wallet means their release cycle will be longer,” reported the site. It added, “We’ve seen extremely stable builds of Android 4.0 for the NS4G for a while now, and you know the developers already have their hands dirty (trust me, they are all over it) using tonight’s leaked files to make things even better.”