Android KitKat Most Stable Mobile OS - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Business
11:30 AM

Android KitKat Most Stable Mobile OS

Android KitKat beats iOS 7.1 when it comes to stability for mobile users, app study finds. That's big news for developers, too.

10 Best Android Apps Of 2013
10 Best Android Apps Of 2013
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Two key factors determine an app's success or failure: uptime and responsiveness. Unfortunately for developers, some of these factors are completely out of their hands. In order to gain real traction with users, developers need to make sure their apps crash only 1% of the time and respond to input in 1 second or less. Just how hard is that to accomplish? According to Crittercism, it ain't easy.

Crittercism recently published its Mobile Experience Benchmark Report, which gauged how well applications perform across various devices, operating systems, and networks around the world. According to the study, there are 2,582 devices, 106 different operating systems, and 691 network operators that developers need to consider. Together, these create a staggering 100 million possible combinations. The company then examined data from its 1 billion active monthly users and tens of thousands of apps to find the weak links. The results might surprise you.

How well do the various operating systems hold up? According to Crittercism's data, Google's Android 2.3 Gingerbread has the highest total crash rate, at 1.7%. It's more than twice as prone to crashes as Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat, which have crash rates of 0.7%.

These latter three systems are all more stable than Apple's iOS. The best-performing version of iOS is the most recent, iOS 7.1, which has a crash rate of 1.6%. It offers improved performance over iOS 7.0 (2.1%), and iOS 5 (2.5%).

[Office for iPad is finally available. How stable will it be? Read Office For iPad: Microsoft Shifts Strategy.]

Crittercism says the smartphone versions of these operating systems are much more stable than their tablet counterparts. Tablet apps are much more prone to crash. The iPhone 5 is the most stable Apple device, while Samsung makes the most stable Android devices.

With a crash rate of 4.4%, games are the apps most likely to crash. Heavy use of graphics, video, and audio automatically increases an app's instability, and games can be headache for users. E-commerce apps, on the other hand, are the most stable, boasting a crash rate of just 0.4%. This is good news, as their downtime is more costly to the companies that develop them.

Geography also plays a role in an app's success, thanks to the responsiveness of the networks in various regions. Crittercism set the US as the benchmark for clocking response times. An app that takes one second to respond across the network in the US would take 0.8 seconds to respond in Canada, and 0.9 seconds to respond in Japan. These are the only two regions that outperformed the US in app/network response times. Apps in China, Australia, and Europe are also quick, with relative network response times of 1.1, 1.2, and 1.2 times the rate of those in the US. Response times begin to slow in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa, with times of 1.5, 1.6, and 1.9, respectively, compared to the US. Where is response time worst? India, where the average response time is 2.1 times longer than what's seen in the US.

Crittercism concludes that 47% of apps don't have a competitive uptime. That means almost half of all apps crash more than 1% of the time they are being used. One-third of apps have a crash rate of more than 2%. These poor uptimes lead to lost mobile revenue for companies that monetize their apps via advertising and other methods.

Bottom line? Keep fine-tuning those apps!

What do Uber, Bank of America, and Walgreens have to do with your mobile app strategy? Find out in the new Maximizing Mobility issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/12/2014 | 9:26:21 PM
This study was commissioned and funded by Google (Google Venture).
Andre Richards
Andre Richards,
User Rank: Strategist
4/3/2014 | 5:19:35 AM
Re: Justice!
I've owned 3 Android phones and 3 iPhones and 1 iPad and, just from my personal experience, the Android devices were buggy as hell and crashed constantly. The iOS devices were generally stable and reliable.

The problem with tracking stability is that one has to do it over the lifetime of the device, and I suspect this study doesn't do that. In all three cases with the Android devices I've owned, they started off with about 5-6 months of stability comparable to iOS. But that gradually deteriorated and the devices started acquiring a lot of weird behavior--sudden restarts, crashes, freeze-ups, etc. This behavior would increase in frequency over time to the point where the devices would become nearly unusable. In the case of iOS, no such change in stability would occur. 

I can't explain that other than perhaps assuming Android is prone to corruption to the OS. Whatever the cause, I've never experienced this on iOS.
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 7:17:14 PM
Re: Justice!
@GeekalogySG: I don't think anybody who uses iOS 7.x would argue that it's particular stable. iOS 6.x was much better in this regard, in my own experience. 7.x has been buggy as all get out.


User Rank: Apprentice
3/29/2014 | 9:24:12 PM
The most stable mobile OS is actually Windows Phone 8 - which is why many of us choose to use it. Next time, please include it. 
User Rank: Apprentice
3/28/2014 | 2:48:53 PM
We were always curious about why iOS is regarded as being more stable than Android. Yes, Gingerbread was the black sheep but things were being rectified for the last few versions of Android and it's time for some justice! Geekalogy covered it as well on our site:

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