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Google now warns users to update apps that crash

With the latest improvement to the Google Play Store, users have a new incentive to update their apps.

google play store logo with blurred background on android
Image: KnowTechie

Updating software. It’s the technology equivalent of flossing. You know it’s important, sure. And yet, it’s something most people procrastinate on.

With no sense of urgency, it’s all too easy to hit “snooze” on those all-important patches and upgrades.

Now, with the latest improvement to the Google Play Store, users have a new incentive to update their apps.

Whenever an Android app crashes, Google will prompt users to install the latest version to hopefully prevent future crashes.

As noted by Android Police, the November 2022 Play Store system update changelog says it will “help users resolve app crashes with new update prompts.”

A dive into the Play Store’s source code by esper.io’s Mishaal Rahman revealed the following text:

Update the app to fix crashes
The app stopped working, but the latest update for the app may fix the issue. Install the update and then open the app again. If you want to update later, go to %1$s in Google Play.

There’s no shortage of reasons why Android apps crash. These range from sloppy coding and network connectivity issues, to a lack of quality control. Some crashes are the product of unforeseen edge cases. 

With thousands (if not tens of thousands) of device types and billions of users, crashes are inevitable. 

Inevitable, but undesirable. Developers want to make software that works. This desire — and the Google Play Store’s rating system — motivates developers to fix their code. But patches only work if people install them. 

With this relatively minor tweak, the Google Play Store will hopefully help users to help themselves.

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Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Past work can be found on The Register, Reason, The Next Web, and Wired.

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