As an Android user, I know how annoying is  when an app crashes and decides it can’t run anymore.

As an Android developer, I know what a terrible situation is when a user (or more!) say “It’s not working” without explanations, and maybe giving the app a bad review (which, sadly, will remain even when the problem is solved).

“It’s not working”

Let’s be clear: a user isn’t required to help in any way the developer when there’s a problem. So let’s consider this a good thing to do.

A user saying “It’s not working” might mean two things:

  • the app is defective and won’t let achieve what it promises for technical reasons (bugs, crashes, faults in the implementation…);
  • the app is not working as expected by the user.

Unfortunately Google Play Store doesn’t offer yet the chance to answer user reviews, not publicly nor privately, so it’s fundamental that the user makes his report also through email, or any channel the developer provides. It’s for the interest of all:

  • for the developer, because he’ll surely need clarifications from the user;
  • for the user, because the developer can’t do much without these clarifications!

Many apps choose to provide a “feedback” option in some menu, probably near “about” and “help”, to ease this kind of communications.

Bug reporting

In case of bugs with a force close it gets much more tricky, because the developer will surely need particular information on the device. And here come the bug reports.

I’m sure you noticed, after the crash, that the dialog proposes the user to send a bug report. Probably you know the official version from Google of this feature, here’s a screenshot:

After pressing “report”, another dialog asks for a user comment and if you want to include system info. It’s already a lot if the user decides to send the report even without them (rest assured that the date will remain anonymous), however a comment on what the user was doing when the app crashed is always welcome.

Alternative reporting systems

Actually Google’s solution is a bit limited for the developers, because it includes only general kind of information that might not be enough to solve the problem remotely without further (annoying) actions. There are some alternative solutions, one of them is called ACRA, and I’m using it for the upcoming app from ParanoidAndroid.it). Don’t be afraid then if you don’t find the usual dialog, because it’s also for your interest as users.

In some cases, to limit the annoyance for the user, the developer might choose to have the report be sent automatically, obviously leaving among the app settings the choice of disabling automatic reporting.

Here’s what you might find:

 

In alcuni casi, per limitare il fastidio per l’utente, lo sviluppatore può scegliere di far inviare il report automaticamente, ovviamente lasciando fra le opzioni dell’app la possibilità di disabilitare la segnalazione automatica.

Ovviamente i messaggi saranno diversi e nella stessa lingua dell’app!