Raising the red flag when an app’s known to not play nicely

We’ve all been burned by bad apps before, whether they just aren’t able to do what we want them to, are overly difficult to use, or just flat-out don’t work properly. Thankfully, we have quite a few tools at our disposal to help sort the good from the bad, from user reviews and app ratings, to Google’s own efforts to police Play Store submissions. Last fall, we heard about a new system for identifying poorly performing apps and warning users before they downloaded. We haven’t spotted a ton of these just yet, but it looks like a growing number of apps are beginning to display such notices.

As you might recall, the plan was to gather data about how often apps weren’t just crashing on users, but also when they hit annoying multi-second freezes. Google decided to set general thresholds for both of those at around the 1% level. What’s maybe more interesting is that it’s also gathering this data on specific devices. Since some apps may only have issues with certain hardware, not everyone’s going to run into the same problems. But if an app starts crashing for users of the same phone at a rate higher than 8%, that’s going to set off the Play Store’s alarm bells.

As you can see in the screenshot above, if you’re running the same hardware as other users for whom an app’s been glitching out on, you’ll get this kind of warning before downloading. It’s no guarantee that the app will be outright unusable, but we very much appreciate the ability to go in with our eyes open.

So far, we haven’t been seeing a boatload of these, and that’s probably for good reason: Developers have access to these crash and freeze stats, as well, and with this kind of very public Play Store shaming, they should find themselves highly motivated to nip any performance issues in the bud. We’re still happy Google is keeping them honest, all the same.

Conclusion on Google Play now warns you when apps are too glitchy to bother with

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