With yesterdays release of iOS 10.3 and macOS 10.12.4, Apple has made a significant change to how its App Stores operate. At long last, developers now have theability to respond to user reviews in order to offer support, ask follow-up questions, say thanks, or otherwise interact with their apps customers. The change has been a long time coming the feature has been standard in Google Play since 2013, and a huge headache for Apples developer community over the years.
Not merely was the prior system a sore spot for developers, it was bad for consumers, too.
If anapp crashed on you or had some sort of weird bug, you might head over the App Store to leave acomplaint. This was often easier than trying to track down the developers contact information, especially because many publishersdont include an email address or support information in their App Store description.
Those objections could help developers identify new bugs or other previously unknown glitches, yet there was no way to reach out to the user to ask follow-up questions that could help them address the situation and create a fix.
Some developers would even try various tactics to try to identify the user in question, simply to be able to ask more for datum like reverse engineering aUserID to figure out which email was associated with the usersaccount, for example.
In addition, the lack of a review response system also avoided developers from promoting a sense of community around their apps. They couldnt respond to feedback about feature requests to explain their reasoning, talk about where that feature was on the roadmap , nor could they thank users who shared kind words.
Being proactive by responding to issues that need addressingisnt just about developing better software it can also impact the developers bottom line.
When users feel the developer is paying attention and being helpful, theyll likely rate the app higher. Better rated apps will see more downloads, and then move up the following chart on the App Store.
Whats New For Developers
With the launch of the new feature, Apple offers a series of suggestions about how developers should respond to reviews. It explainsthat timely, clear and concise answers are best, and they should reflect the tone of the brand even if multiple people write the responses. The company also suggests that developers should prioritize those reviews with lower star ratings, for obvious reasons.
Theusers reviews appeariTunes Connect, thedashboard where developersmanage the apps they offer for download on the App Store. A page will display the incoming reviews, allowing developers to now answer or report them.( Under App> Activity> Ratings and Reviews ).
There are also filters for seeing reviews from users in different countries, which can be helpful for triangulating reviews forversions simply rolled out to new markets.
Developer responsesappear to go through a process of their own, MacStories detected.( Insure below tweet ). Some developers areseeing reactions marked as Pending, for instance.
Whats New for Users
For customers, the process of leaving a review hasnt changed, if in the App Store itself.
However, developers have gained a new option for soliciting reviews in the app itself. By using theSKStoreReviewController API, developers can ask youto rate or review anapp while youre activelyusing it, without being redirectedto the App Store.
This will have a bigger impact in terms of collecting ratings and reviews from a larger audience, as many people reject the nagging review promptings today.
Even better, the API restricts developers from asking for reviews more than three times per year, which will have a huge impact on user experience. Some apps( Tindercomes to mind ), literally asktheirusers for a ratingat some phase during every single utilize. And once reviewed, the promptings cant reappear.
Unfortunately, the option to completely disable review promptings for all installed apps, as promised is not appearing in the updated version of iOS, as it had in the beta .
We understand that this feature was actually pulled out early on in the developer betas, however, and will likely return in time.
The idea here is that Apple wants to give developers a grace period to implement the new API, so until that period wraps, the user-facing disable defining will not be available.
Another new feature forusers are email alertings that arrive ifa developer responds to your review.Following the answer from the developer, theemail includes further promptings with links: Do you want to update your review ? and You can also contact the developer .
In the App Store itself, the responses are clearly labeled with arrows and the heading Developer Response, eradicating any confusion.
The reviews and reactions are also timestamped, which is another means of find how quick the developer is managing incoming complaints. Merely one response can be associated with any review, but developers are able to edit their answers, Apple notes.
Plus, users can now use 3DTouch on a review to mark it as Helpful or Not Helpful.
One minor grievance is that the links a developer might provide like to a support page or FAQ, for example arenot functioning URLs.( Assure screenshot below ).
This could build answers more time-consuming for developers who now have to type out instructions that are already on their site, and users wont be able to click the links directly.
Developers are thankfully forbidden from manipulating reviews or incentivizing feedback, per Apples App Store Review Guidelines. Thecompany clearly tells developersnot to offer users positive incentives to change their review ratings in your reply, as a means of keeping the review system honest.
Certainly some developers will try to skirt this system, so it should be interesting to track how Apple handles those in violation.
Yesterday, Apple released new versions of its operating systems and an update of iTunes.Youll only ensure these changes if youve upgraded your Apple software to the latest version.