Google’s Failed Update, or How To Avoid Crashing Users' Phones

Bartłomiej Franków

Jun 22, 2021 • 4 min read
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The latest update of the Google app caused Android smartphones to crash all over the world.

The issue reportedly impacted devices made by Samsung, Motorola and Google itself (Google Pixel). Here’s what happened and why, but also how to get the problem fixed if you’re an affected smartphone user. There’s also a handy checklist for product managers to help them avoid such mishaps in the future.

Google app gone down

Google is an app for Android users that serves as a search bar and a news stream. It’s also connected to Google's voice assistant. On 21 June, the app received an update (12.23.16.23), which has most likely caused issues on hundreds of thousands of Android-backed phones. While some users didn’t notice any errors, others claimed they were unable to use their phones due to app errors coming up on their screens repeatedly. It could be extremely frustrating to those who rely on their devices at work.

The error also made it impossible to use other apps and features, including Podcasts, Lens and Assistant (both on mobile and in Android Auto).

Google app crash: solution

While we’re waiting for Google to provide an official fix, here’s how to solve this error in case your phone has been affected.

Currently, the most secure way is to revert the most recent update of Google. In order to do it, (1) head to your phone Settings, (2) select Applications and (3) tap Google. In the top right corner of the screen you should see the menu button (three dots), where you can delete the last update. Once you tap it, the notorious update will be uninstalled, and your phone and apps should be back again.

GooglePixelError

Image source: Bartłomiej Franków.

There’s no need to turn automatic updates off, as these are usually crucial for maintaining access to your favorite apps.

Product Manager’s tips to avoid app crashes after updates

App updates are part and parcel of software development. They provide users with new features, improved designs, bug fixes, etc. But releasing an update that can actually crash – or, in worst cases, brick – users' phones is an absolute no-go, as it may have a terrible impact on their satisfaction and, as a result, significantly reduce their loyalty, and convince them to start looking for alternatives.

In order to avoid this, there are certain things that Product Managers working with mobile apps should remember about:

  • Test it on various devices
Always test your releases on popular devices. Even if your software works best on 2021 flagship phones, releasing it with no guarantee that it’s safe for people using other popular, yet older, devices, is a risk you should not take.
  • Test it on various OS versions
There’ll always be users with older operating system versions than the most recent one. Others will use betas as part of beta testing programs (I’m using Google Pixel with Android Beta 2, today’s crash affected my phone as well). Make sure your software will work on all of these.
  • Automate your tests
Implement automatic testing solutions like UI and unit tests for improved scalability and reproducibility of your test results.
  • Force fix update
Despite all the efforts you make, it could happen that an update is released with a bug causing errors to users. One of the first things you should do is to release another update with a proper fix. How to make sure that all users download it? You can force an update in your app, disallowing people from using it until they patch it with your fix (highly recommended!)


That’s all for now. We’re waiting patiently for Google to release a fix to their latest update. If you have any questions about mobile app development, let us know here.

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Bartłomiej Franków

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