Upcoming Changes to App Store Reviews

Update: With the release of iOS 10.3 to the public, Apple has provided documentation on how to manage and respond to users on the App Store.

iOS 10.3 is shaping up to be a significant update and we here at Vokal want to specifically address the updates to the iOS App Store review platform. We want to help you understand what the changes entail, what the impacts are and how to best leverage the change to positively impact your product.

What's changed?

Currently, the only way for a user to leave a review is for the application to forward the user to the Apple App Store. The process leaves a lot to be desired for the users who must exit the app in order to leave a review, leading to a very disjointed experience. There is also the notoriously intrusive prompts for app reviews in the current experience that can appear at the worst times during your app experience.

The iOS 10.3 updates to the review platform of the App Store are comprised of a couple of new features listed below, along with some caveats that should alleviate the majority of the well-publicized gripes of the current review process.

Key Features

  1. Ability for developers to designate when/where in the user experience a review can be given by users directly in the app experience
  2. Ability for developers to respond to app reviews in the App Store

Important Caveats

  1. Apple is restricting the prompt to three times per year, so use them wisely! (Vokal can help with that strategy!)
  2. Restricting the review prompt to only users who have not yet reviewed the app
  3. Only one developer response allowed per review in the App Store

These changes may not be much of a consolation for those users who dislike the solicitation of app reviews altogether. However, the caveats that will be in place should cut down on the exasperation experienced in the current review process. Furthermore, there will be a system-wide toggle to turn off review prompts completely.

How is this implemented?

According to Apple, it is a very straightforward implementation where a developer can display an in-app review modal anywhere within the app experience:

Using the SKStoreReviewController API, you can ask users to rate or review your app while they're using it, without sending them to the App Store. You determine the points in the user experience at which it makes sense to call the API and the system takes care of the rest.”

Why is this important?

App Store reviews are an important metric for users and product alike to determine both the desirability of the app and any improvements to the app, respectively. Therefore, reviews that are insightful and reflective of the actual experience are invaluable to both parties.

In addition to an overall better user experience, these new updates to the review platform can also be leveraged to garner quality reviews from users. Let’s go through some of the relevant changes and analyze what we believe are the two biggest impacts:

  1. Ability for developers to designate when/where in the user experience a review can be given while a user is in the app

    • More opportunities for users to provide positive reviews when we can dictate when in the experience a review is given
    • Users have a better ability to provide quality and honest feedback on a certain experience if we prompt them to provide it right after said experience
  2. Ability for developers to respond to reviews

    • More opportunities for businesses to show that they care and are listening
    • Respond to reviews that do not relate to product and assist with troubleshooting

Vokal Tip: It is best to leave the in-app review at the end of an user flow. Taking a user away from the task at hand to prompt an app review will more than likely lead to a negative experience for users.

Final Thoughts

We believe users tend to give better reviews when they have the ability to write them in a timely manner. Negative memories tend to linger the longest, even with digital experiences. Therefore reviews written by users well after they experience the app may lead to a more skewed review. Additionally, having the ability to strategically dictate exactly where the in-app review modal will appear during the experience can minimize distractions to users, which can lead to better reviews.

The caveats in place should also be planned strategically, to ensure a better experience while not sacrificing quality reviews. Our Product and UX team can help you strategize where the best placement of an in-app review experience should be within your digital product.