Each year we see Apple release a new version of iOS, sending users into tizzy, desperate to try all the new features at the price of stability. These aren’t developers and that’s ok. They’ve either paid the $99 developer entry fee or found a friend who was willing to allow them into the cool kids club. Let’s face it, it’s fun to be on the cutting edge, for the most part. While Apple has a history of relatively stable builds, beta software can be tremendously buggy and that’s just the default operating system. When you add third party apps that have not been written for the new iOS, it can result in all sorts of wonky behavior. One would think those who installed something with the beta tag would be understanding of the premise of beta software. Often that’s not the case. Making matters worse, some make their way to the App Store to leave bad reviews, tarnishing an apps reputation for no good reason. This is unfair and should be addressed, but how do you prevent iOS beta users from leaving bad reviews.
This was a topic brought up in our forums and there were some interesting suggestions. One suggestion was to prevent Apple’s latest beta from posting reviews to the App Store. This might be a roadblock, but users could still review an app using their desktop browser.
I posed the idea of allowing developers to respond to reviews, which has taken shape in the Google Play Store. There were some poignant responses that resulted in my position shifting. As Richard points out, it could result in chaos:
This actually would create more problems. You’re assuming the developer is rational and reasonable and that the reviewer is sane. In reality, devs would be sensitive and respond to too many reviews and reviewers would not be happy with devs getting the last word. People would change their reviews and you would end up with YouTube level comment wars. Chaos.
Not only do I agree, but it could end resulting in a full time job. If a developer doesn’t respond to every comment, it looks as if they are invested. Truth of the matter is that developers are often focused on improving their apps. Responding to bad reviews would do nothing more than waste time that could be better spent coding. Additionally, I’m not certain that a good portion of customers read the reviews, let alone would take the time to read responses. It wouldn’t change the rating, which is still a major factor when considering a purchase.
The discussion is ongoing and I’m not certain there is one clear cut answer for correcting the problem. Apple isn’t going to limit developer access, so you’ll continue to get an influx of consumers who will gladly pay $99. Even if they raised the fee, it would just increase the market for UDID registrations. The Apple community as a whole can help by creating a bit of public awareness. If you are running beta software, you should accept that it is unfinished software and will be unstable as a result. With the operating system still in beta, it’s unfair to expect developers to have a shipping version of their app that is 100% compatible. If you are running iOS 7 beta, accept that some of your apps will not work and don’t leave reviews that could tarnish the reputation of a hard working developer.
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