Apps Keep Crashing? 3 Diagnostics Secrets Every Carrier & OEM Should Know

Apps – there’s one for virtually everything, and users around the world download and use so many of them in a single day. In Europe, for example, overall mobile app usage rose by 58 percent in 2015 – with the majority of this growth coming from productivity and emoji apps, according to Digital Strategy Consulting. And users in Asia are heavy app users too – using the Google app for […]

Rohan Bapat is the Senior Director of Product Management. In this role, he determines customers' product needs, guides product improvements and assesses market competition. He's regarded as a mobile diagnostics expert and often provides valuable tips on how businesses, mobile carriers and OEMs can optimize device performance to reduce NTF returns, increase productivity and boost customer loyalty.

Apps – there’s one for virtually everything, and users around the world download and use so many of them in a single day. In Europe, for example, overall mobile app usage rose by 58 percent in 2015 – with the majority of this growth coming from productivity and emoji apps, according to Digital Strategy Consulting. And users in Asia are heavy app users too – using the Google app for search purposes, WhatsApp for sharing local and practical information and Facebook for entertainment. And according to the GSMA “Mobile Economy – North America 2015” report, the United States is home to the world’s largest app market in terms of revenue.

But what happens when apps crash or freeze? What does that do to a device’s day-to-day performance – and even its long-term health? They can do quite a bit of damage. But many users don’t know this. And most customer service and repair staff employed by wireless carriers and device manufacturers, for that matter, don’t know this either because they either lack the technical skills or don’t have a proper diagnostics solution to figure it out. So when apps crash and freeze and users look for help from their carrier or device manufacturer, they don’t always get the right answers. And instead of fixing the cause of the device issue, they are told to return the device unnecessarily.

This is a big problem. It’s not just because you could be wasting your customers’ time and money on having to buy a replacement device. But it’s also going to cost you, on average, $50 to $100 to process and re-market that returned device as used. If you do the math – and you consider how many devices are returned unnecessarily (as No Trouble Found devices), then it adds up to a huge number. Let’s try to put a stop to that by sharing 3 diagnostics secrets that your customer service and repair staff should know.

#1: Make sure to simultaneously update software.

There is a constant stream of software updates to improve operating systems; weed out and fix the bugs, overcome security issues and add new features for a better user experience. What this also means is that applications that run on top of these operating systems, such as Facebook, Instant Messenger, WhatsApp, YouTube, etc. also need to accommodate these changes. Once a new version of the operating system is out, app developers have to update their applications to run smoothly on top of the operating system. During this time, app developers also fix previously reported bugs and issues, security loopholes and so on. So if a user fails to update their apps regularly, they may be missing out on the new fixes. If either operating system or the application is out of sync, the user could experience issues which may cause an application to crash.

Tip for customers: Don’t ignore new operating system and app updates. If customers fail to update their device to the latest version of the operating system, they could be missing out on important security updates and bug fixes for previously reported issues. As a result they could begin experiencing performance related problems with their device, or worst case their mobile data and privacy could be put at risk.

#2: Teach users about the signs and performance dangers of badly designed apps.

It seems like everyone is designing their own app – from retailers and financial institutions, to college students and budding entrepreneurs. Everybody is trying to come up with their own creative idea, port it into a stylish application and sell it to millions of users through the likes of iPhone’s App store, or Android’s Google Play. What this means is that amongst the top-notch apps that provide the best user experiences as well as being beautifully designed and coded, there are hundreds of copy-cat apps that offer a similar package but lack the same standard of software support. Without the same software support that provides bug fixes and security patches, the device operating system is weakened, causing devices to crash.

Tip for customers: Before downloading an app, encourage customers to check other users’ reviews of the app. If an app has poor reviews, the chances are that there is a very similar, yet better quality app out there, even if it means paying a little bit extra.

#3: Warn users to be wary of downloading apps from third party sites.

Downloading ‘free’ versions of popular apps from third party sites may seem like a ‘quick fix’ for user, but it can end up being very costly. Cybercriminals use malicious domains to host suspicious files containing the data needed in app installation. They can use these to plant malware onto devices to access mobile data and personal information. Security breaches of Dropbox and Snapchat were blamed on third party applications creating holes for cyber criminals to exploit, allowing personal photos, files and information to be leaked.

Tip for customers: Only download apps from the operating systems’ dedicated online stores – so the ITunes store for Apple devices and the Google Play store for Android devices. Users need to be made aware that downloading apps from third party sites puts both their personal data and device health at risk. Paying $0.99 for the real thing as opposed to the rip-off version for ‘free’ will certainly pay off in the long run.

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