Reports From the Field: How To Get the Crash Data You Need

crash reports

Building a stable, productive, and useful app for your customers is a lot more complex than many end users realize, especially in a time when updates to both apps and operating systems are frequent and frequently automatic. That means today’s developers need to be able to get data about issues with app performance wherever they happen. How do you do that, though? There are a few ways built into platform development tools, but their information can be more limited than you’d like and accessing the information is sometimes a lengthy process. On top of that, not every OS is equally good about letting you access crash reports.

Is Native Crash Reporting an Option?

If you’re developing for Android, you Google Developer account will receive crash information pertaining to your apps as users submit it through Google’s built-in reporting interactions. This is a good start, but it’s not the most comprehensive way to gather data. It’s also not an option for developers working on iOS, which means you will need another solution for the Apple version of any app you develop. It doesn’t make sense to manage two sources of data if you don’t have to, so that makes the use of a crash reporting tool in your app’s build all the more useful. Even if you are relying on the information sent to your Google Developer account, it’s a good idea to get corroboration and additional data points, so it’s worth keeping another option in mind even if you lean on Android’s built-in system.

Upgraded Analytics and Rich Data

When you use a mobile crash reporting tool, you have more options for your data collection, as well as more options for visualizing and collating the information as it comes to you. That means better organization of breadcrumbs, hardware information, and stacktrace data, with more customization options. In addition to that, you have access to bug reports across more ecosystems. A top-tier reporting tool will allow you to move beyond monitoring Android and iOS builds, incorporating extra options like reporting for apps built with:

  • Unity
  • React Native
  • Expo

As today’s app ecosystems and ports to additional platforms continue to diversify, it’s becoming more and more likely your future projects will involve multiple ports of the same basic app package, so a multi-platform tool is an essential part of ensuring high stability and a quality end-user experience across every build of every app you develop.

How Reporting Tools Work

While it’s possible to access the native crash data in some ecosystems, premium reporting tools attempt to catch the crash in real-time as it happens, producing an independent log of the system information at the time of the crash. This not only does an end-run around issues like iOS’s data lockdown for private data, it also generates a report that is free of any errors created by the OS, which could be an issue in cases where the operating system is outdated, modified outside of OEM specifications, or otherwise compromised compared to your predicted operational models. It also allows the reporting tool to have customized parameters, so you can more easily hone in on the right information.

All this is essential to the progress of your build in today’s mobile world because the wide range of devices means that even within a single OS build, you’re likely to encounter a wide range of hardware behaviors. A debugged app on one Android phone may still be bugged under another, even on the same version of the system. Beyond that, Android builds with the same version number can have wide differences due to manufacturer customization, and compatibility with older phone models is becoming more and more important as devices achieve longer and longer lifespans. That’s to say nothing of the issues you might encounter porting from a phone’s hardware to a tablet within the same version of the OS. While iOS and other platforms might be simpler, even Apple has been diversifying its hardware options. That means you need the tools to gather every piece of relevant data while you’re working.

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