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How to Fix Crashing Apps on an iPhone or iPad

Hand holding an iPhone XS showing the home screen.
N.Z.Photography/Shutterstock

Apps can crash or freeze on iPhones and iPads, just as they can on any other platform. Apple’s iOS operating system disguises app crashes by closing the app. If you’re experiencing crashing, freezing, or buggy apps, here’s how you can fix your problem.

Is it an App or Device Crash?

First, you have to figure out whether it’s an app crash or a device crash. This is pretty simple: if you’re using an app, and it suddenly closes for no reason, the app crashed. If you’re using an app and it becomes unresponsive, but you can still access other apps, the app has crashed. If you’re trying to launch an app and it keeps disappearing, the app is repeatedly crashing.

If your phone has become unresponsive, it’s likely a device issue. Your phone will display a black screen or remain stuck on the Apple logo if the device has crashed. Also, if your iPhone or iPad is slow for no apparent reason, and across multiple apps, it’s a device issue.

If you cannot connect your wireless headphones, send files over AirDrop, or see AirPlay devices, it’s possible a service used by the operating system has crashed.

Troubleshooting App Crashes

Apps are third-party software that runs on your iPhone. Despite the, “it just works,” perception of Apple devices, there’s plenty that can go wrong and cause apps to crash, become unresponsive, or refuse to open at all. Problems usually stem from issues with the code, unexpected input, and even hardware limitations. Apps are made by humans, after all, and humans make mistakes.

If an app suddenly disappears, it’s due to a crash. In most cases, reopening it resolves the problem. If you’re sharing analytics with developers (more on this later), they receive a crash report they can use to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

How to Kill an Unresponsive App

If an app is unresponsive, you can kill it using the app switcher. There’s no need to routinely kill apps using this method unless they’re causing issues. The app switcher is accessed using different shortcuts, depending on your iPhone model:

  • iPhone 8 and earlier (devices with a Home button): Double-tap the Home button until you see a list of recently-used applications.
  • iPhone X and later (devices without a Home button): Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and flick to the right or Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold until you see a list of recently-used applications.

You can use this list to switch between apps quickly. Find the application causing the issue, and then touch and swipe up on it to “throw it away” and close it. The app will disappear from the list of recently-used apps.

The iOS App Switcher on an iPhone.

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