Mobility

How to deal with misbehaving Android apps

If you have a particular Android app that is constantly misbehaving, Jack Wallen has some tips that might help relieve that frustration.

Misbehaving

We've all experienced it — that one app that seems to cause never-ending problems. It'll run for a while and then, out of nowhere, it starts freezing or force crashing. This becomes an even bigger problem when the app in question happens to be in the "must-use" category. What do you do? Do you continue suffering through the data loss and crashes? No, you don't. This is business, and you can't deal with apps that don't behave as needed.

To that end, what do you do? You read on and integrate these tips into your standard operating procedure. They may even save you from data loss and app crashes.

Close the app

When you "close" an Android app, you really aren't closing it — you're just shuffling it back into memory (that's a very simplistic explanation of the process). Instead of leaving that app running in memory, you can actually close it. In order to close the app, you need to open up your device's task manager. For some devices (such as the Verizon-branded Droid Turbo), there's a dedicated button for the multitask list. From that list, you can close an app by swiping the app to the right (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Closing apps from the multitask listing.

Clear the cache

There are times when an app retains either too large of a cache or the cache it contains has gone awry. When this happens, you need to clear that app's cache. Fortunately, Android has a simple way to do this (so you don't have to install a third-party cache cleaner). Here's how to clean the cache of a single app:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Locate and tap the Application Manager (labeled Apps, Application, or Application Manager — this will vary, depending on your device)
  3. Swipe to the All tab
  4. Locate and tap the app in question
  5. Tap Clear cache (Figure B)

Figure B

Figure B

Clearing the cache for the Facebook app.

Clear app data

When the above two tips don't work, you have one last-ditch effort before an uninstall/reinstall. Within the app's listing in the Application Manager, there's a button called Clear data. This button will remove user-configuration, and the app will be as if it were installed for the first time. A combination of Clear cache and Clear data is a one-two punch that almost never fails. The only caveat to the Clear data button is that you'll have to reconfigure the app. If your particular app requires server settings or passwords, you'll need that information in hand (or mind) before you tap the Clear data button. Once you tap that button, it's back to square one (minus the installation step).

Uninstall/reinstall

When all else fails, there's always the old uninstall/reinstall. This should be considered a last-ditch effort. Most likely, the above tips will resolve the issue, but there are times when an app simply needs to be reinstalled. Even then, there are no guarantees. Since not all apps are created equal, some simply don't run with even a modicum of stability.

Upgrade

Finally, if you have a particular app (one that happens to be on the top of the must-use list) that's behaving improperly, you should always check for an upgrade to the app. Many apps you use are frequently updated to fix bugs and prevent issues like force crashing with devices. So, updating frequently is important. If you don't happen to see an update pending notice in the notification area, do the following:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
  2. From the left edge of the screen, swipe to the right
  3. Tap My Apps
  4. Locate and tap the app in question
  5. Tap the UPDATE button (Figure C)
  6. Tap ACCEPT (if prompted)
  7. Allow the update to complete

Figure C

Figure C

Updating apps on a Droid Turbo.

Last but not least, you should always check to see if Android itself has a pending upgrade. If there is, install it. Sometimes, a force crash could be caused by a problem with the platform and not the app. Once this bug is fixed, the app will behave.

To find out of an operating system upgrade is available, go to Settings | About phone | System updates (on some devices, the path is Settings | System updates). If there's a pending update, run it.

In the end, you might find that your must-have app is simply not well enough written to be reliable. If that's the case, I highly recommend searching for an alternative. If the app was built in-house, take the issue to the developers and insist they resolve the issue for your device.

Troubleshooting misbehaving Android apps isn't nearly as challenging as you think. Give these tips a try and see if you don't wind up getting those apps back in line!

Have you had bad luck with a particular Android app? If so, what was it, and what was your route to success?

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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