iOS 10.3 iTunes App Store to allow replies to reviews

By January 25, 2017 Tech
Technology at Lee Parker

It’s been a while since I last commented on the technology beast: Apple. In fact my last article was on iOS 9 beta 5 (we’re now on 10.2). A lot has changed with the tech giant since then, but the latest technology news with Apple is that the next iOS release version 10.3 will allow replies to App Store reviews. This may well be the silver bullet the Cupertino company has been looking for.

It’s no surprise that the App Store’s engagementĀ levels have declined over the years, there hasn’t been many groundbreaking updates to the App Store’s interface nor has there been any major overhaul in Apple’s strategy to market new apps other than the yearly best of. The smartphone leader knows there is a decline, so they’re doing something about it – finally.

iOS 10.3 – iTunes App Store to allow replies to reviews

The App Store has, since launch, allowed customers to write reviews on the apps they are voluntarily downloading and using. This simple feature has always been a sure fire way for developers to find out and understand how their users are using the app. Qualitative data like this is vital for any product manager’s analysis of a product’s use case.
Positive reviews – every developer is praying for these; if a customer is happy with the App and want to thank the creators they’ll surely let others know by writing a solid review. This is great for encouraging others to download the app, good reports equals increased opt ins.

Though these types of reviews are few and far between unless the perfect product manager has nailed the feature set.

Negative reviews – on the other hand, these less favoured reviews can be found in their masses. If you have a poorly built application the user is going to let you know about and the rest of the community tempted to download your app too. Frustrated or disorientated users are more likely to write a bad review than those who had a good experience, its a fact, and unfortunate when it occurs. The negative image could make or break the extra 100 downloads you were hoping for.

Although negative reviews are almost a catch 22 situation – although negative – they can most definitely help developers identify issues that would go unnoticed in the app’sĀ development, after all, bugs happen.

Up till now, developers and brands have only been able to watch, sigh, cry, or jump for joy at the reviews their users are writing, though with iOS 10.3 this is set to change. Despite Google enabling this feature a while back, Apple will finally allow developers to communicate with those who write reviews.

What does this mean for the brand?
Brands can thank their loyal customers for writing good reviews and communicate directly – customers generally feel as though they’re in a silo if the companies support team do not listen to their views and suggestions, so this passive communication is going to generate some real benefit to the outcome of the product.

At the same time brands can talk to those whom are less than impressed with the product, stating that a bug they’re experiencing is known and being worked on, or encouraging those that a particular bug is caused by something else and won’t require a new app version, this feedback will be invaluable to those who vent – likely to increase their retention rate.

What else is 10.3 giving us?

Still on the topic of reviews, the only way a review can be written has only ever been through the App Store. Mobile marketing companies have come up with ingenious ways to encourage review writing at critical steps throughout the users’ journey e.g. on a commerce app, if the user has just made a purchase and the process was relatively smooth, a pop up could show encouraging the user to write a review. This would then lead them to the App Store.
Although inventive, the mechanism still has a high bounce rate since a user going to the App Store to leave a review is time consuming and basically ‘effort’. Though with the latest iOS 10.3 SDK, Apple will allow reviews to be written in your own app! Yes your own.

This will no doubt, increase the adoption rate of reviews two-fold if implemented at the opportune moment. You can quote me on that.

10.3 is likely to ship to customers early this Spring, 2017 according to various rumour sources is going to be a jam packed year for Apple’s product roadmap. Make sure your ios developers are reading the SDK notes, pronto.

What is the latest ios version? 10.2