Wednesday, September 18, 2013

iOS App Store Ratings Change

Update: Apparently this is a temporary change, and Apple is playing with this. On iOS 7 currently it is showing the number of reviews for this version, and for apps with less than 5 reviews it is not showing any star rating at all. That is an interesting change as well. I have apps with hundreds of reviews that are showing as if they don't have any currently because of recent updates.

The app stores and any changes that happen on them are very important to me for obvious reasons. I make a living on them so I try to keep up with them. Yesterday I noticed a new change regarding how ratings display on the store. I don't know if Apple is testing a change, or if it is permanent, but currently there ratings are being displayed for all versions instead of for the current version.

Generally, when you are looking through search results, the star rating and the number of reviews is from the current version of the app. With a new update, the reviews would generally revert to total reviews until the app reached 5 reviews for the current version.

Currently, the store seems to be showing the rating and number of reviews for all versions no matter what. This is an interesting change for several reasons. First, if you accidentally release a version with a bug or a bad design decision, it is going to be really hard to overcome. Before you just had to fix your mistake and hopefully get some good reviews on the next update.

On the other hand, it created a scenario where developers were incentivized to not update their apps. If I have an app with a few hundred reviews rated 4.5 stars I don't want to update that. The difference between seeing 175 reviews next to your app and 5 next to it is huge. Starting over has an impact on sales and it can be rough.

Overall I think this is a good change. There should never be an incentive for devs to not update their apps and make them better.

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