On March 27th, Apple released iOS 10.3 to the general market.
This update brought some interesting consumer functionality to users, like the ability to track down lost Apple Earpods or the addition of cricket scores to Siri (no doubt much-appreciated in the Indian market), but that’s hardly the biggest delivery of the update.
The real effect of 10.3, however, is a win for iOS developers.
That’s because Apple has (finally) given devs some better tools for both requesting and responding to app reviews and ratings.
Behold: The In-App Review
They said it couldn’t be done, but they were wrong. On second thought, no one actually said “it couldn’t be done,” so why the hell did this take so long?
Developers can now take advantage of the SKStoreReviewController API to let app users rate an app without ever leaving it (you can see an example of what the resulting dialogue window looks like to the left).
With any luck, this should drastically reduce the amount of friction a user has to slog through in order to leave a rating and or review for an app — gone are the days of needing to accept a dialogue, get transferred to the App Store app, leave a review, then navigate back to the app (a process which automatically turned off many to the prospect of leaving a rating).
While the screenshot here only shows a star rating being requested, app users have the option of leaving a written review along with their rating as well, as always.
Self-Defense: Responding to Reviews
The other major change, which has been highly anticipated by developers since its announcement, is the ability to respond to individual reviews your apps receive.
This allows developers to much more fairly respond to criticism or answer questions in reviews. If you’re feeling like really garnering some goodwill, you might just use this feature to thank users who took the time to say something nice about your app.
When you respond to a review using this functionality, the user who left the review will receive a notification and have the option to update their review in light of your response.
This should give developers and publishers a voice in a key area of app success that they previously had little say in.
App developers are getting some serious love in this update, which should make it easier to both gather ratings/reviews, and respond to any concerns that are raised in them — and that sounds like a major win.
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