Google apps on ICS Android tablets crash more often than others

Google is quick to point out how many tablet apps are in the Google Play market, and just as quick to get its own apps released. Unfortunately they seem to crash regularly, even on ICS.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

When the first Android tablet appeared on the scene the newly minted Honeycomb was not up to the task. The Motorola XOOM crashed every few minutes no matter what app was running. Over time Google got Honeycomb stabilized and the tablet was much better to use for extended periods.

Now we have Ice Cream Sandwich, the most stable version of Android for tablets yet, and while crashes are much rarer than in the past, they still happen far too frequently. My experience with two different ICS tablets shows it is usually a Google app that crashes.

This makes no sense to me, you would think the developer of the OS would have the most stable apps. Whether I am using the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the ASUS Transformer Prime seems to be irrelevant, at least two or three times a day with typical use a Google app is going to crash.

The worst offender is the Gmail app, a great email app in every way except it crashes all the time. Sometimes it crashes when updating the inbox, other times when composing an email. It runs fine and then the app just disappears, kicking me back to the home screen.

The Chrome Beta browser is almost as bad, it works for a while and then either dumps me back to the home screen or worse gives me the dreaded black screen. When the latter happens there is no clean recovery, the Chrome app thinks everything is fine. Unfortunately it just displays a totally black web page, and the only way to recover is to go to settings and manually kill the app.

I don't use Google Voice much, but I've heard it is particularly crash-prone on Android tablets. I have seen Google+ crash a few times, although less frequently than the other Google apps I've mentioned.

This leads me to wonder why Google can't make its own apps run properly on its OS? It doesn't set a very good example for third party developers if it is as hard to do as it apparently is. Maybe Google is rushing its apps out the door to get Android tablets covered for its services, but it doesn't look good whatever the reason. It makes the most stable tablet version of Android look pretty flaky in my view.

Note: The Gmail app crashed twice on me while writing this article.

See related:

Editorial standards