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Understanding App Crashes, Definition and Overview

Vishalini Paliwal

Imagine you're using a mobile application on your Android phone, and suddenly, it stops working or closes unexpectedly. That's what we call an app crash. It's a common issue in the world of mobile computing and can happen for various reasons.

1. What Causes Android App Crashes:

  • Software Bugs: Think of these as human mistakes or errors in the app's code. They can cause the app to behave unexpectedly and crash. Common examples include memory leaks, which occur when the app uses up too much memory, or null pointer exceptions, where the app tries to use or access something that doesn’t exist.
  • Device Compatibility Issues: Android is used on a wide range of devices with different hardware specifications and screen sizes. Sometimes, an app might work well on one device but not on another, leading to crashes.
  • Resource Constraints: Your phone has limited resources like memory (RAM) and processing power (CPU). If an app is too demanding, the system might shut it down to keep everything else running smoothly.
  • Network Issues: Mobile apps often need to connect to the internet. Problems with this connection, like timeouts or errors in handling network data, can cause crashes.
  • External Factors:  Sometimes, the problem isn't with the app itself but with external elements like server errors or GPS signal loss, especially in apps that rely on these services.

2. Problems Caused by Android App Crashes:

  • User Frustration: it's annoying when an app you rely on suddenly stops working. This can lead to users uninstalling the app or leaving negative reviews.
  • Data Loss: if you have some unsaved work or information it might get lost if an app crashes, which is inconvenient and frustrating for users.
  • Revenue Loss:For businesses, app crashes can mean lost sales, reduced user engagement, and a tarnished brand image
  • Reputation Damage: Frequent app crashes can harm an app's reputation and brand image, making it less likely for users to trust or recommend it.
  • Support and Maintenance Costs: Fixing crashes and helping affected users requires time and money, adding to the cost of maintaining an app.

3. Real-Life Examples of Major App Crashes:

  • Facebook Outage (October 2021): it's crucial to recognize the power of system configurations in large networks. The Facebook outage was a direct result of a configuration change. In layman's terms, think of it like adjusting a small valve in a vast pipeline, which unexpectedly bursts the entire system.

This incident is a textbook case for understanding how digital platforms have become intertwined with global commerce and communication. The outage was more than a technical glitch; it affected millions of businesses, showcasing the ripple effect in our interconnected digital ecosystem.

  • WhatsApp Crash (November 2019): Here's where your understanding of software development comes into play. A bug in WhatsApp's status feature—a seemingly minor element—caused a significant disruption. This exemplifies how even small components, if not properly tested, can lead to substantial issues.

WhatsApp's handling of this situation offers a lesson in crisis management. Acknowledging the issue and quickly working on a fix is crucial in maintaining user trust.

  • Robinhood App Outage (March 2020): In the world of finance, app stability is non-negotiable. This outage during a period of market volatility is akin to a blackout during a financial super bowl. It demonstrates the importance of resilient and scalable systems in finance apps.

Think about the real-world implications—users unable to execute trades potentially faced financial losses. This is a clear example of the direct impact of IT systems on personal finance and market dynamics.

  • Twitter App Crashes (Various Instances): Twitter's ongoing struggles with app stability provide a case study in the importance of continuous improvement in software development. It's not just about building an app; it's about nurturing and refining it over time.
  • From a business perspective, these crashes serve as a warning. In the social media landscape, user experience is king. Frequent issues can erode trust and user engagement, which are the lifeblood of such platforms.

These examples collectively demonstrate the diverse causes of app crashes—from configuration errors to software bugs—and their wide-ranging must internalize the importance of robust testing and proactive system maintenance. It's about foreseeing potential issues and mitigating them before they escalate. These case studies underscore the need to balance technical proficiency with an understanding of business and user impact. Technology doesn't exist in a vacuum; its effects are far-reaching and multifaceted.

Well known example of App Crash - Gboard App Crash (2019):

The Gboard App Crash of 2019 serves as a potent reminder of the challenges in app development, particularly in handling bugs that can lead to widespread user frustration. For developers, it's a lesson in the importance of continuous testing, user feedback responsiveness, and the swift resolution of issues to maintain the integrity and reputation of an application.

Bug Description: In August 2019, a significant issue emerged with Gboard. Users reported that the app was crashing frequently, particularly when they tried to type. This issue made the keyboard, an essential tool for daily smartphone usage, practically unusable.

The root of the problem was identified in the voice input feature. When users tapped the microphone icon to use voice typing, a null pointer exception occurred. This type of error happens when the app tries to use a reference that points to no location in memory (null), leading to a crash.


  • User Experience Disrupted: For a core app like a keyboard, reliability is crucial. This crash led to significant inconvenience, especially in communication apps reliant on text input.
  • Public Reaction: Users voiced their dissatisfaction across various platforms, including social media and app store reviews, highlighting the critical nature of the issue.
  • Google's Response: Google acknowledged the problem and worked on deploying a fix. However, the process of rolling out the update and reaching all affected users took time.

Here's a simplified example of the kind of code that could have caused the Gboard app crash:

public class VoiceInputHandler { public void startVoiceInput() { // Initialize voice recognition system // ... try { // Start voice recognition RecognitionResult result = VoiceRecognizer.recognize(); // Process the result // ... } catch (NullPointerException e) { // Unhandled null pointer exception, app crashes throw e; } } }

This example illustrates how even a popular and widely-used app like Gboard can experience critical crashes that disrupt user experiences. Developers must be vigilant in testing and resolving such issues to maintain user satisfaction and the app's reputation.

What are some examples of code which can cause App Crash. 

Android app crashes can occur for various reasons, and they can be categorized into different types based on their root causes. Here are some common types of Android app crashes along with examples and the problems they can cause in an e-commerce Android application:

  1. NullPointerExceptions (NPEs):
  • Cause: NullPointerExceptions occur when an app attempts to access an object or variable that is null.
  • Example Code:
String productTitle = null; // ... int length = productTitle.length(); // Causes a NullPointerException
  • Problem: In an e-commerce app, a NullPointerException might occur when trying to access product details, leading to app crashes. Users won't be able to view or purchase products, resulting in lost sales and a poor user experience.

Memory Leaks:

  • Cause: Memory leaks happen when an app doesn't release memory resources properly, leading to gradual degradation of performance and, ultimately, app crashes.
  • Example Code:
public class ProductCache { private static Map<String, Product> cache = new HashMap<>(); public void addProduct(String id, Product product) { cache.put(id, product); } }
  • Problem: Over time, memory leaks can lead to increased memory consumption, causing the app to slow down and eventually crash. In an e-commerce app, this might result in customers abandoning their shopping carts or experiencing sluggish performance.
  1. ANR (Application Not Responding):
  • Cause: ANRs occur when the main UI thread becomes unresponsive for a prolonged period.
  • Example Problem: If a time-consuming database query or network request is performed on the main thread without proper threading or background processing, the app's UI may freeze, and eventually, the system will display an ANR dialog, forcing the user to wait or close the app.
  • Problem: In an e-commerce app, ANRs can lead to a frustrating user experience and cart abandonment, as customers may leave the app due to unresponsiveness.
  1. Resource Exhaustion:
  • Cause: Running out of system resources like memory (RAM) or CPU can lead to app crashes.
  • Example Problem: If the app consumes too much memory by loading large product images or handling many concurrent database requests, it may exceed system limits and crash.
  • Problem: Resource exhaustion can result in lost sales and a poor user experience as customers encounter app crashes or unresponsiveness.
  1. Security Vulnerabilities:
  • Cause: Security vulnerabilities in an app, such as SQL injection or insufficient data validation, can lead to crashes or unauthorized access.
  • Example Problem: If the app doesn't properly validate user input in search queries or user registration forms, it could be vulnerable to attacks.
  • Problem: Security vulnerabilities can compromise user data and the integrity of the app, potentially leading to breaches and loss of trust among customers.

To prevent these types of app crashes in an e-commerce Android application, developers should conduct thorough testing, implement proper error handling and resource management, and pay attention to security best practices. Regularly monitoring and analyzing crash reports and user feedback can also help identify and resolve issues before they significantly impact the app's performance and user satisfaction.

Different types of Android app crashes and how to proactively avoid them.  

Here are some examples of App crashes and how to proactively prevent the types of app crashes mentioned earlier in an Android e-commerce application, follow these best practices:

Null Pointer Exceptions (NPEs):

  • Always perform null checks before accessing objects or variables to prevent NPEs.
  • Implement error handling strategies, such as using try-catch blocks to handle exceptions gracefully.
  • Use the Objects.requireNonNull() method to explicitly check for null values and fail fast when necessary.

Memory Leaks:

  • Be mindful of long-lived references to objects, such as context or views, and avoid retaining them unnecessarily.
  • Use weak references when appropriate to prevent strong references from causing memory leaks.
  • Employ tools like the Android Profiler and Memory Leak Detection Libraries to identify and address memory leaks during development.

ANR (Application Not Responding):

  • Offload time-consuming tasks, such as database queries, network requests, and image loading, to background threads or asynchronous tasks.
  • Implement proper threading and concurrency management using classes like AsyncTask, Executor, and Loader.
  • Consider using libraries like Retrofit for network requests and Room for database operations, which provide built-in background threading.

Resource Exhaustion:

  • Optimize resource usage by compressing images, loading images lazily, and using a content delivery network (CDN) for serving media content.
  • Limit the number of concurrent database connections and network requests.
  • Regularly monitor and profile your app to identify resource-hungry components and optimize them.

Security Vulnerabilities:

  • Implement input validation and sanitization to prevent SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and other common security vulnerabilities.
  • Employ secure coding practices, including parameterized queries for database operations and output encoding for user-generated content.
  • Regularly update and patch third-party libraries and components to address known security vulnerabilities.

Crash Reporting and Analytics:

  • Integrate a crash reporting tool, such as Firebase Crashlytics or Sentry, to monitor and receive real-time crash reports from your users.
  • Analyze crash reports to prioritize and address the most critical issues promptly.
  • Actively engage with user feedback and reviews in app stores to identify issues and gather insights into user experience.


  • Conduct thorough testing, including unit testing, integration testing, and user interface (UI) testing.
  • Create test cases specifically designed to uncover issues related to the types of crashes mentioned.
  • Use emulators and real devices for testing to ensure compatibility across a range of hardware and Android versions.

Regular Updates:

  • Keep your app and its dependencies (such as libraries and SDKs) up to date to leverage bug fixes, security patches, and performance improvements.
  • Release app updates with bug fixes and enhancements on a regular basis.

Error Handling and Recovery:

  • Design your app to gracefully handle errors and recover from failures whenever possible, providing informative error messages to users.
  • Implement retry mechanisms for network requests and database operations to improve user experience.

Documentation and Code Reviews:

  • Maintain clear and well-documented code to facilitate collaboration and understanding of the codebase.
  • Conduct code reviews to catch potential issues early and promote best practices within the development team.

By proactively following these best practices, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of app crashes and enhance the overall reliability and user satisfaction of your e-commerce Android application.

What is the difference between an App Crash an ANR, Freeze

Android app crash, Android ANR (Application Not Responding), and Android freeze are different issues that can occur in Android applications, and they have distinct characteristics:

Android App Crash:

  • When an Android app crashes, it means that the app unexpectedly terminates or closes without the user's intention.
  • Crashes are usually the result of unhandled exceptions or errors in the app's code.
  • Common causes of app crashes include null pointer exceptions, array index out of bounds exceptions, or other runtime errors.
  • The app may display an error message to the user, and in some cases, it may prompt the user to send a crash report to the app's developer.

Android ANR (Application Not Responding):

  • ANR occurs when an Android app becomes unresponsive or "freezes" for a significant amount of time, typically around 5 seconds.
  • ANR is triggered when the main thread of an app (UI thread) is blocked, usually due to long-running tasks, such as network requests or complex computations, that are executed on the main thread.
  • When an ANR event is detected, the Android system may display a dialog to the user, asking whether they want to wait for the app to respond or force close it.

Android Freeze:

  • Android freeze is a less common term, but it can refer to a situation where the entire Android device becomes unresponsive, not just a single app.
  • Device freezes can occur due to various reasons, such as resource exhaustion (e.g., running out of memory), system-level issues, or even hardware problems.
  • In the case of an Android freeze, the entire device may become non-functional, requiring a reboot to regain normal operation.

In summary, an Android app crash is specific to an individual app and occurs when the app abruptly terminates due to a coding error. Android ANR pertains to an unresponsive app, usually caused by long-running operations on the main thread. Android freeze, on the other hand, refers to the entire device becoming unresponsive, which can have a range of causes, including resource constraints or system-level issues. Each issue requires different approaches to diagnose and address the problem.

Examples of Stack traces for Crash and ANR 

stack traces are generated when an error occurs, and they contain detailed information about the state of the application at the time of the issue. Developers typically analyze these stack traces to identify the root cause of the problem.
However, I can provide you with examples of what stack traces for these issues might look like in general:

1. Example of an App Crash Stack Trace:

FATAL EXCEPTION: main Process: com.example.myapp, PID: 12345 java.lang.NullPointerException: Attempt to invoke virtual method 'void android.widget.TextView.setText(java.lang.CharSequence)' on a null object reference at com.example.myapp.MainActivity.onCreate( at at ...

In this example, the app crashed due to a NullPointerException at line 25 of the MainActivity. This error occurs when trying to call the setText method on a TextView that is not properly initialized.

2. Example of an ANR Stack Trace:

ANR in com.example.myapp PID: 12345 Reason: executing service com.example.myapp/.MyService Load: 99% CPU usage for 5000ms CPU usage from 5000ms to 5000ms ago: 95% com.example.myapp: 90% user + 5% kernel / 5% iowait 3.5% android.system: 2.5% user + 1% kernel ...

In this example, an ANR occurred when the app's service (MyService) was executing and blocking the main thread for 5000ms, causing the system to detect an unresponsive state.

Example of a Freeze Stack Trace: A freeze in the entire Android system typically doesn't provide a stack trace in the same way that app crashes and ANRs do. It may result in the device becoming unresponsive, and it often requires a reboot to recover.

Difference between Hard Crash and Soft Crash in Android 

In the context of Android app development, "hard crash" and "soft crash" are not standard terms. Developers typically refer to different types of issues based on their characteristics, such as crashes, ANRs, or freezes. However, the terms "hard crash" and "soft crash" can be used informally to describe the severity and recoverability of a crash.

1. Hard Crash:

  • A "hard crash" is a term often informally used to describe a severe and unrecoverable crash in an Android application.
  • It typically means that the app abruptly terminates without any chance of recovery. The app usually closes without displaying an error message or any indication to the user.
  • Hard crashes are usually caused by critical issues like unhandled exceptions, memory corruption, or other severe problems in the code.
  • These crashes often result in the application being forcibly closed by the Android operating system.

2. Soft Crash:

  • A "soft crash" is another informal term that developers may use to describe a less severe or potentially recoverable crash in an Android application.
  • A soft crash might involve an application closing or becoming unresponsive but may provide a more graceful exit or display an error message to the user.
  • Soft crashes may occur when an application encounters an exception but handles it with error-checking mechanisms or when the app's state becomes inconsistent but can be restored or recovered.
  • These crashes might still disrupt the user's experience but may not be as severe as hard crashes.

It's important to note that these terms are not part of the official Android terminology but are used conversationally to express the severity and user impact of application crashes. In any case, it's essential for developers to address both hard and soft crashes to provide a better user experience and maintain the reliability of their applications.

Tools used to detect and report Android App Crash. 

Several tools and services are commonly used to detect Android app crashes and gather crash reports. Keep in mind that the popularity and effectiveness of these tools can change over time. Here are five popular tools for detecting Android app crashes:

1. Firebase Crashlytics:

  • Firebase Crashlytics, part of Google's Firebase suite, is a widely used crash reporting tool for Android app development.
  • It provides real-time crash reporting, detailed crash reports, and insights into the most common crashes.
  • Developers can integrate Firebase Crashlytics into their apps with minimal code changes, making it a convenient choice for many developers.

2. Sentry:

  • Sentry is a comprehensive error monitoring platform that supports various programming languages, including Java and Kotlin for Android.
  • It provides real-time crash reporting, error tracking, and performance monitoring.
  • Sentry allows developers to capture detailed information about app crashes and exceptions, making it easier to diagnose and fix issues.

3. Instabug:

  • Instabug is a bug and crash reporting tool that offers in-app feedback and crash reporting features for Android apps.
  • Users can report issues directly from the app, and developers receive detailed crash reports with relevant information and logs.
  • Instabug also provides tools for user surveys and feedback collection.

4. Rollbar:

  • Rollbar is an error tracking and real-time crash reporting tool that supports Android applications.
  • It provides insights into crashes, exceptions, and errors, helping developers identify and resolve issues quickly.
  • Rollbar integrates with various development and notification tools for efficient error tracking.

5. Zipy Mobile: 

  • Zipy is a comprehensive platform which has multiple features like session replay, error tracking, crash tracking, network log tracking all built in one for Android applications. 
  • It provides not just insights into crash logs but also allows you to playback sessions, stitch the crash logs, sessions and logs together to give complete insights into the reason for the log. 
  • With Zipy one does not need to reproduce the crash as it is always captured in real time and has all details required to debug a crash. 

It's essential to note that the choice of a crash reporting tool may depend on your specific project requirements, such as cost, ease of integration, features, and the development environment. Additionally, new tools and services may have emerged since my last knowledge update, so it's a good practice to research and evaluate the latest options to find the best tool for your Android app crash detection needs.

How to use Zipy to detect Android App Crashes? 

Unlike tools which give just event tracking or crash logs, Zipy gives a more comprehensive solution to help you understand what the user was doing when a crash happened. Along with the crash log stack trace, Zipy also provides a session replay feature which helps you play the user actions back in the form of a video. One of biggest hurdles of reproducing the crash is now overcome as one does not need to reproduce the crash. Zipy captures a live recording of the user actions as it happened in real time and plays it back for you. The session replay, along with user environment details, crash logs and network logs provide a complete view of the user’s issue. 

How to use Zipy to detect Android App Crashes

An example of how Zipy will detect and report and App Crash in Android Sample application. 

Once Zipy SDK is integrated in the Android Mobile app, the users logs start getting captured in real time by Zipy. If a crash occurs for a given user for this application, the crash logs get uploaded when the user starts the application again. This crash can be viewed within the Zipy dashboard by the application developers and they can proactively debug the issues. 

For any crash the following details will be shown in the Zipy dashboard. 

  1. User Session which can be replayed. 
  2. Crash and ANR logs 
  3. User Environment details 
  4. Network Logs 
  5. Custom Logs if any 

To learn more check this page out or reach out to 


Android app crash is one of the most common issues faced by Application developers. For years there have been tools like Crashlytics which help you debug these. With the mobile first world today and advancement in Android, there are many applications, solving similar problems for users. The applications which are able to survive are the ones which give the best user experience. In such a competitive landscape it is important for the developers to equip themselves with the best Android debugging tools to help give their users a crash free experience. 

There are multiple types of Android crashes and they need detailed understanding. Most tools provide the basic crash details but most of them lack the user context or the steps which led to the crash. 

Zipy is one such advanced platform which helps Android developers go beyond the basic tools to debug and fix Android app crashes much faster.

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any more questions feel free to reach out to us at 

Why does the app keep crashing?

App crashes happen because of various reasons. This could include software bugs in the code, device related issues, network problems etc. App continues to crash till the known reason for the crash has been identified and fixed. 

How to fix app crash android?

App crash in Android can be fixed by developers by debugging the crash using a goog crash reporting platform. By analyzing the crash logs, understanding the steps which resulted in crash and the stack trace which led to the crash is teh first step. Once the RCA has been done and issue identified as a code problem, device or network issue, the developer can then make the corresponding changes and test it to ensure it is fixed.

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