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iPhone Apps (Still) Crash More Than Android Apps, Study Shows


Despite its reputation for being the most reliable and secure mobile platform, Apple's iOS is less stable than Google's Android OS, according to research.

In the five-and-a-half years since its first Android device, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has done some pretty incredible things with its mobile platform. What began as a clunky, unattractive alternative to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone line has now matured into the most widely used mobile OS in the world.

But despite its massive market share, Android is still hampered with the reputation that it's less stable than iOS. Thanks to Apple's walled garden, sweeping update rollouts, lack of fragmentation, and stringent approval process for the App Store, iPhones and iPads are widely regarded as far more reliable devices than Android phones and tablets.

However, a new study conducted by mobile performance experts at Crittercism found that iOS apps were less stable and more prone to crashes than Android apps. In fact, the study had to go as far back as Android 2.3 Gingerbread -- which is over three years old -- to find a version of the OS that was more crash-prone than Apple's latest version of iOS.

According to the research, which tracked a billion users for a month and monitored more than 3 billion actions per day, iOS 7.1 is -- unsurprisingly -- the most stable version of Apple's mobile platform, with a crash rate of 1.6%. Coming in second was iOS 7 with a 2.1% crash rate, followed by iOS 6, which had a crash rate of 2.5%.

But when it comes to Android, crash rate numbers fall drastically. For Android 4.0 and up, which includes all versions of Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, the crash rate is a mere 0.7% -- less than half of Apple's best offering. Only Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which was released in December 2010, lost out to iOS 7.1 -- by a mere 0.1%.

That means, according to this study, a three-year-old version of Android is only slightly less stable than the software running on Apple's current iPhone -- and that's taking into account the countless variables in Android devices, including manufacturer, chipset, carrier, and software. Comparatively, iOS 7 is compatible with no more than 10 Apple devices.

Crittercism Chief Technical Officer Rob Kwok explains the firm's findings. "There are 100 million factors that affect the performance of a mobile app," Kwok says. "As new mobile platforms such as wearables grow in adoption, the challenge to provide a consistent, high-quality experience to users will be even more difficult, and mobile teams need purpose-built solutions to manage the overall app performance. This benchmark report provides the bar that mobile teams should set for their app performance and experience."

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Apple has failed to meet that bar as well as Android.

Two years ago, Apple found itself in a similar position, trailing Android in app stability. (See: iPhone Apps Crash More Than Android Apps, Study Shows.) But according to the numbers in 2012, Android's margin of stability was much slimmer than today's findings, with iOS app crashes occurring only slightly more than Android. With this most recent study, it would appear that iOS has become less reliable.

It should be noted that Crittercism's investors include parties from both sides of the Apple-Google war. Google Ventures is among the firm's financial backers, as well as Bob Borchers, former senior director of worldwide product marketing for the iPhone.

But given the extensive media coverage of the two-year-old study and zero comment from Apple -- which would quickly denounce the research if there was a flaw to be found -- it's difficult to dismiss these numbers as statistical error or evidence of a conflict of interest.

As Minyanville's report of the 2012 study concluded, "Hopefully by the time [Crittercism] delivers its next round of results, Apple and its developers [will] have uncovered the reason behind its higher fail rate and polished the OS so that it lives up to its esteemed reputation."

So much for hoping.

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