The user reviews in the iOS and Mac App Stores can be a mixed bag. Sometimes, a user provides useful information to help you make a purchasing decision. But often the user reviews are filled with complaints about problems that were encountered while using the software. When a software developer addresses those problems in updated software, the user review lingers.
In a future update to iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, developers will have a chance to address user reviews in the App Store. The release notes for iOS 10.3 state that developers will be able to respond to a user review, and the response will be available for others to see. The notes also say that this feature will be available in the Mac App Store.
Apple doesn’t provide any information on how the response system itself works. Hopefully, it’ll work in such a way to make it easy for the developer to respond. As Many Tricks’ Rob Griffths points out on Twitter, something like a notification system would help. Popular apps get more reviews, and having to manually browse each review could even be discouraging to developers.
The release notes also state that there will be a new API for asking users to review and rate an app while still using the app; you won’t be switched over to the App Store app. According to The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple, who talked to Apple about the app reviews API, developers will now be limited to three review requests per year, and if a user does leave a review, the requests will stop. Dalrymple also reports that there will be a “master switch” to turn off review notifications from all developers, and that iOS 10.3 will allow you to label a review as Helpful via 3D Touch.
Why this matters: With such a wide selection of software, user reviews play a key role when you need to make a buying decision, but sometimes a review can be misleading, have wrong information, or talk about issues that the developer has addressed. The ability to let the developer respond to a user review should result in a better user experience in the App Store, as well as better customer relations for the developer.