Instagram Now Crashes 5 Times a Day and It's Driving Me Crazy

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How can the billion-dollar app company allow its product to become inexplicably buggy?

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It was not long ago that Instagram was my favorite app in my leisure hours. Like millions of other people, I find it fun and intimate. Make and look at pretty pictures! I was not bothered when Facebook acquired* my favorite little startup.

But then a couple of weeks ago, things started to go haywire. It seemed like every few times I opened the app, it crashed. I could do the exact same thing twice and one time it would crash. There was no rhyme or reason; the app had become unstable.

I started counting. On the fourth of July, the app crashed six times. Yesterday, it crashed five times. Every few times I open the app, it spontaneously closes itself. I contacted Instagram multiple times for this story, even including my crash logs, and never heard back from their team.

My device's crash logs seem to indicate that the main problem is that "Instagram has active assertions beyond permitted time." This appears to be a recognized problem that coders occasionally discuss.

From what I can tell, I am not alone in this problem. I didn't do a formal survey, but several iPhone 4S users are having similar trouble. Meanwhile, other 4S users are having no problems at all. There do not appear to be any obvious differences between the group having problems and the group that's sailing along. This is confounding and worrisome. There's no method to the bugginess madness!

Mysterious, serious, and persistent bugs like this may be (almost) tolerable for new apps, but we're talking about a company that sold for a billion dollars. It's not acceptable to deliver an app to some percentage of your loyal users that crashes all the time.

It also makes me wonder if being acquired by a much larger company with a much bigger and different mission might make Instagram slightly less committed to delivering the perfect standalone photo app.

Two questions for you, if you're an Instagram user. 1) Are you having this problem? 2) Have you solved it? Please share.


* As Dan Frommer notes, the deal hasn't closed yet, but one can imagine they might be a little distracted.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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