Which Phone OS Crashes More? It’s Not Android

By  |  Monday, February 6, 2012 at 7:52 am

The argument that iOS is a much more stable operating system than Android has been repeated on the blogs and even in the comment threads of stories about the two operating systems. There’s a problem, though: the data indicates that is untrue.

Mobile app monitoring company Crittercism released data Friday on crash reports from the period December 1 through December 15, and saying iOS has stability issues is putting it nicely. By a 2-to-1 margin, iOS crashes much more frequently than Android, according to Crittercism’s report. The biggest offender is iOS 5.0.1, accounting for 28.64 percent of all crashes.

By comparison, the most crash-prone Android operating system is 2.3.3, accounting for 3.86 percent of reports. That’s a huge difference and is sure to get the Apple blogosphere in an uproar over the survey’s methodology.

Yes, the firm’s work did have a disproportionate number of iOS devices in the test (162 million to 52 million for Android). However, to blunt that criticism, Crittercism split the data into quartiles, and looked at the crashes as a percentage of app launches.

The story is the same. In the top quartile, iOS apps crashed .51 percent of the time versus .15 percent for Android; in the second quartile 1.47 percent to .73 percent; and in the bottom quartile 3.66 percent to 2.97 percent. The data favors Android once again.

What’s causing the instability in iOS? It’s a good question without an easy answer. Apple’s walled garden approach in the App Store could leave a disproportionate number of users with outdated and buggy apps. Developers must wait to get updates approved by Apple just like the first time they submitted their apps; Android developers can choose to allow for auto-updating without any need for the Android market.

Even Apple’s iAd is at fault: Crittercism received reports that the Cupertino, Calif. company’s advertising platform at times does not play nice with developers’ ads, causing instability.

One caveat: Crittercism’s data period is early enough that Ice Cream Sandwich crash data may not be accurately reflected. The firm says it expects the percentages of crashes on the newest version to increase significantly in future data sets.

Either way, the data puts to bed a misconception over the stability of Android, and raises new questions about iOS. Does Android have better quality developers, then? You might be able to argue yes.

[Hat tip: Forbes]


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13 Comments For This Post

  1. Chris Hill Says:

    I find this interesting because it points out that we have evolved beyond stability as a key feature. The stability is good enough that we can be focused on other metrics, such as functionality, speed, and UX. Whether android has better developers in terms of crashes per app is possibly true, but not as important of a question as how *good* the apps are that they make.

  2. denizen Says:

    Did this take into account the difference in number of user share? Could it be that the samples say that there enough iOS users to generate this much reports than Android or Other OS consumers?

  3. NanoGeek Says:

    That was my first thought. Also, does this report count third-party app crashes or only OS crashes?

  4. Warc Says:

    Two words: Objective C

  5. Skeptical Says:

    I don't understand this post. You start off talking about OS crashes, and then you're talking about OS _app_ crashes. Which is it?

    In the case of an OS crash, it's an interesting metric, but does this weigh into consideration the fact that Android's user base is completely fragmented across umpteen versions, where as the bulk of iOS devices are on 5.0.1, thus possibly accounting for the most crashes because most users are, you know, actually using it?

    In the case of an app crash, assigning that to the OS is a complete cop-out. It's the app developer's responsibility if their app crashes, not the OS. Again, has this survey weighed in the fact that the iOS app store has a gazillion more apps? Not all of them are going to be rock solid, it's a fact of life. Devs rush apps out the door to get them in the App Store before christmas. Etc. You can't blame the OS for sloppy app devs. However, when one OS has hundreds of thousands more apps, it stands to reason that they're going to have more crappy apps too. It's just a numbers game.

    Weight these results and they'd have more credibility: weigh OS crashes against installed percentage, and weigh app crashes against the number of apps in the store.

  6. vbscript2 Says:

    Actually, last I heard, the Android Market had already passed the iOS app store in number of apps available. Also, Android phones have well surpassed iPhones in number of users and are outselling them by a wide margin, a margin which will continue to get wider until Apples next bump when iPhone 5 comes out. iOS will go the way that the Macintosh went in the late 80's/early 90's and for the same reasons.

  7. Robbie Says:

    What did they precisely measure? Crashes of the OS or crashes of the apps? And how is a "crash" defined? I can imagine that the memory management of Cocoa/iOS makes a crash well defined. Maybe Android users quit the app themselves when it doesn't respond. Does that count as a crash? And how did the normalization work? You would hope that later releases are less crash-prone, but for iOS this doesn't seem to be the case. 5.0.1, 4.3.5, 4.2.10 and 4.1 are among the most crashy. It also seems as if iOS 3.x never crashes. It makes me think that what you actually see is the amount of users per OS: 3.x users are almost extinct and people do update within a certain point release (from 4.2.1 to 4.2.2) but less between point releases (from 4.2.10 to 4.3.0).

  8. Tom Ross Says:

    I don't get what they are doing with the quartiles… They report that 75 % of the devices they are looking at were on iOS, while only 65 % of the crash reports were from iOS apps. Isn't obvious that iOS apps are more stable?

  9. Antonio Saverio Says:

    This means/shows Windows is an excelent OS.

  10. Erica Colon Says:

    In no way does this report inply that the Windows operating system is excellent. Thank you.

  11. sittiininlab Says:

    Is anyone else surprised by the breath of iOS versions out in the wild? I know I haven't updated mine in a long time, apparently I'm in good company.

  12. MobileUser Says:

    What iOS fragmentation? This data is totally false. Ask Apple there is no fragmentation of their mobile OS.

  13. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Could be one reason why 'droid power phones outsell iOS phones by a wide margin.