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Android more reliable than Apple iOS

This short post is about a very interesting article from PCWorld entitled:¬†“Who’s the Smartphone OS Crash Champion?” that presents app crash stats and concludes that Android apps crash far less frequently than iOS apps. For details on the crash reports see the article and its graphs.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/249356/whos_the_smartphone_os_crash_champion.html#tk.hp_fv

Essentially the article examines, quotes and shows the crash results from apps as reported by the mobile app monitoring company Crittercism at
http://www.crittercism.com/index.html

There is also more data and an analysis from Forbes at
http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2012/02/02/does-ios-crash-more-than-android-a-data-dive/

Android and iOS
If one takes a very brief look at the articles it might appear that it is the mobile operating systems crashing whereas the reports are actually about apps crashing. Does it matter? Yes, most certainly, because if the operating system crashes it probably needs a reboot of the phone or tablet device and that could lose the users current work or data. Of course a really badly behaved app can deprive the the operating system of resources and perhaps even make it crash, so crashing apps are still a bad thing.

Why the Differences?
Assuming that on average the percentage  of Android apps crashing is far less than the percentage of iOS apps crashing then why should this be? The authors and commenters give a number of reasons but only detailed analysis would really shed light on what is actually happening. Anyhow, here are a few suggestions they made:-

(1) Is it the operating system? Well Android is better at multi-tasking so perhaps it is better at house-keeping, memory, stability etc. The problem is how to measure this from the reports.

(2) Is it the number of operating systems? They suggest that perhaps because there are so many different versions of each operation system therefore developers are having problems making their apps work on each version. However, their stats were from 33 versions of Android and 23 versions of iOS so one might expect the Android to be worse when the contrary is true.

(3) Is it the memory management? – I’m not an iOS programmer so can’t vouch for it but some iOS programmers say it is much more difficult managing the memory on iOS than on Android as the programmer themselves must do it. If true, this would make it much more likely that newbie programmers on iOS would produce less reliable apps than those on Android.

(4) Is it the development languages? – some say Java is more robust than Objective C although Java certainly gives the inexperienced programmer lots of scope to crash their app.

(5) There is also talk of the inbuilt advertising making apps unstable. That might be true because if something in the app starts connecting to the net it might interfere with the app’s natural stability.

(6) There is also the hardware but Apple tightly controls its hardware whereas Android runs on a wide variety of devices from different manufactures. Again, Android should fare worse than iOS but the opposite is true.

Conclusions
Clearly by the reported stats Android apps crash far less than iOS apps but there doesn’t seem a clear case for why it should be. There are so many variables here, different versions of operating system and hardware, types of app, what the app does, and how it interacts with hardware. Perhaps the Android OS is more stable than iOS, time will tell. However, they are both developing so rapidly, so watch this space.

 
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Posted by on 07/02/2012 in Android OS, iOS