Bugs & Fixes: The iPhone app crash champion

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If your iPhone crashes more often than you would like, conventional wisdom typically attributes this to the proliferation of third-party apps on your phone, the ones you added via the App Store. However, this is likely a misconception, or at least an exaggeration.

Recently, I launched Console on my Mac and navigated to MobileDevice -> Ted’s iPhone 3G (the name here will obviously be different for your iPhone). This is where you’ll find a list of every recent iPhone crash, sorted by the name of each process that crashed (the list is updated each time your sync your iPhone).

Somewhat to my surprise, the vast majority of these crashes were due to Apple processes (despite the fact that I have more than 40 third-party apps on my iPhone). The primary culprits were the App Store application itself, Mobile Safari, and Apple’s Texas Hold’em game.

Of course, a few third-party apps also showed up, including one pernicious app that turned out to be the overall “winner” with more crashes than any other: the NYTimes app. It has crashed my iPhone more than 50 times since July. To be fair, I launch this app more often than most others, so it has more chances to crash. But that’s not a sufficient excuse to let this app off the hook. It crashes a lot by any standard. I didn’t really need to check Console to know this. NYTimes crashes almost every time I use it.

Threads in numerous forums, including Apple’s and Macworld’s, confirm that I am not alone here. What is missing from all of these threads, unfortunately, is any suggested work-around or solution. Apparently, the only hope is for the New York Times to release an update that fixes their buggy app.

The only mystery is why it hasn’t already done this. I assume the app’s makers just don’t care enough to make it a sufficiently high priority. There’s an old saying: “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.” The Times should have considered this advice before unleashing their unworthy app on iPhone users.

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