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November 18, 2016updated 13 Jan 2017 11:42am

Pokemon Go iPhone crash: Is smartphone software outpacing hardware?

Smartphone software advances are outpacing hardware capabilities.

By Alexander Sword

Even with new devices from the big smartphone players coming out at least on an annual basis, there is a danger that software is moving too fast for hardware to keep up.

This is one take on new research by Blancco Technology Group, the Q3 2016 State of Mobile Device Performance and Health report, which found high failure rates across devices.

The research found that newer devices such as the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone 5S and iPad Air 2 experienced failure rates of 13, 9, 9 and 2 percent respectively.

On the Android side, Samsung’s recent flagship Galaxy S7 Edge was found to have a high failure rate.

Pokémon GO, the mobile app sensation of the summer, was found to be a problem for both Android and iOS users. For iOS users, it was one of the most frequently crashing apps, reporting 5 percent failures. For Android users, it was found to drain battery due to its use of the screen and GPS.

On iOS, common apps such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook were found to be crashing regularly, with 14, 12 and 9 percent respective failure rates. On Android, IMS services had 32 percent failure rates, while the address book and Google Play Services had 12 percent and 10 percent failure rates respectively.

It is not just apps that are causing problems. On iPhones, the launch of the new version of the iOS operating system, iOS 10, was reported to crash, slow down or disable some unfortunate users’ devices.

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So what is the solution? Do we need to accept poor device performance, high failure rates, low battery life – or less ambitious software?

A range of companies have stepped forward to address different aspects of the conundrum.

pokemon-goDan Bladen, CEO of Chargifi, founded the start-up when he was travelling around the world and realised that being able to charge his device was a key consideration in determining the venues and accommodation he would visit.

His observation was backed up by recent research commissioned by the company that found that 52 percent of UK respondents ran out of battery at least once a week and 22 percent saw this happen three or more times.

The company offers wireless charging equipment in venues such as coffee shops which allow the furniture to become passive smartphone chargers.

“The more you have of something the more you use it,” Bladen tells CBR, speaking of device performance.

Bladen says that device power has increased far more than battery power over the same period.

“Battery life is being outpaced by Silicon technology and better cameras.”

He notes that around two thirds of the iPhone space is taken up by the battery.

Hence the Chargifi solution: if device performance is always going to outpace battery life, stop battery life being an issue by making charge more readily available.

Unfortunately, other issues are more fundamental and cannot so easily be remedied. It is not possible to boost the processing power of a device as easily as its charge.

In its analysis of the report, Blancco Technology Group had advice for concerned parties. For the manufacturers and carriers that supply the devices, the recommendation is to improve customer support functions.

But it is equally important for app makers to ensure that their app is optimised for the demands of different devices. Research, including a report by AppDynamics in 2014, shows that consumers will delete particular apps if they feel it is degrading performance.

How it can be addressed is unclear, but the need to improve power in hardware to match software demands will not simply go away.

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