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App Store Ratings

Why Changes to App Store Ratings in iOS 10.3 Are a Big Deal

January 25, 2017

App Store ratings are being overhauled in iOS 10.3. This is big news for both developers and users. Here’s everything you need to know.

App Store ratings and reviews are important for both developers and users. Unfortunately, many developers turn to third-party in-app popups to request these scores. These popups are annoying since they force users to exit the app to leave a review. More troubling, these popups tend to return, even after you leave a rating, with each new app update.

As we first reported on Tuesday, Apple is finally taking the reigns to change this. In iOS 10.3, Cupertino is set to launch a new API that streamlines the App Store rating and review process.

The details

The API will allow developers to respond directly to individual comments on the App Store for everyone to see. This is important since developers can finally defend their work on a comment-to-comment basis. In doing so, they can go after rogue comments that often influence App Store sales.

Better still, the new API is likely to allow reviews to happen in-app. You’ll no longer be forced to exit the app simply to offer a review. Finally, the API will add some much-needed conformity to the overall in-app app review process.

On Wednesday, The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple provided another important piece of information regarding the new system:

Apple is also limiting the amount of times developers can ask customers for reviews. Developers will only be able to bring up the review dialog three times a year. If a customer has rated the app, they will not be prompted again. If a customer has dismissed the review prompt three times, they will not be asked to review the app for another year.

These type of changes have long been needed on the App Store.

Three years ago, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber highlighted the annoying practice of developers using review popups in apps. At the time, he noted:

I’ve long considered a public campaign against this particular practice, wherein I’d encourage Daring Fireball readers, whenever they encounter these “Please rate this app” prompts, to go ahead and take the time to do it — but to rate the app with just one star and to leave a review along the lines of, “One star for annoying me with a prompt to review the app.”

I have high hopes for Apple’s new API and will be interested in seeing how it develops during the iOS 10.3 beta process. My hope is that it leads to a win-win for developers and users alike.

These changes are likely to go live when Apple releases iOS 10.3 to the public this spring.

What changes would you like to see to the App Store review process? Leave your comments below.