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I have created a location-based app, with its core functionality being location. It is not a maps type application, it also relies on the internet.

Right now my current way of handling when the user goes offline, or loses location-services, is having a window pop-up preventing the user from continuing until they reconnect to the internet, or get location-services back up again.

Is this an appropriate UX? My issue is that my app will not function at all without these two core services and so if the user goes poking around my app while missing those things, the app may crash, not behave as expected, etc. which may lead to the user just deleting it.

So my question really is, what is the best way to handle a situation like this? Do I show an alert instead which allows the user to continue, or prevent the user from continuing at all? What does the user expect with this kind of thing?

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Your instinct about the chance for crashes / strange behavior is very much on the money. Software gets into strange states when you continue without a core service, and you either get bugs from this, or bugs from over complicating your code to handle all the strange states.

Keep it simple. If something doesn't work without a service, why pretend otherwise? Just disable it with a message explaining the problem.

Just make sure that the app will keep trying / auto reconnect in the background (though you probably already thought of that). If it doesn't pop back to life as soon as the user fixes the issue (e.g. turning on location service) they might just give up on it.

  • Thanks. Actually I haven't thought of reconnecting in the background but I certainly will do so now :) – Milo Jul 2 '14 at 18:17
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There's a trade-off between implementation costs (handling all the exceptions) and marketing (showing off features to get users interested). I can't tell what the effort would be, and what the gain would be.

So I can only tell you that just yesterday, I installed an app recommended somewhere, only to see it requires a facebook account (which was not explained in the recommendation). Since I closed down facebook last year, and the app just presented its first screen, I un-installed immediately. Would there have been more preview, I might have created a fake facebook account, who knows?

  • I've made sure to put in my app description, very clearly the requirements for the function. My app doesn't require a sign-up page but the user may run into something similar if the core-services go down or are not reachable. – Milo Jul 3 '14 at 8:08

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