This week, Apple launched the beta for the upcoming iOS 10.3 release. The update puts an emphasis on user feedback, a direction we’ve all been waiting for Apple to take since the Google Play Store rolled out similar functionality in 2013.

iOS 10.3’s new functionality will allow developers to prompt their users with an Apple system prompt without having to leave the in-app experience. Furthermore, the update also introduces the ability for developers to respond to reviews in the App Store. No more leaving negative reviews unaddressed!

Time To Rethink Your User Feedback Prompts

With the App Store ranking algorithm putting such a large emphasis on favorable reviews, it has always been the goal of a growth marketer to elegantly prompt users to review their app at a time when a user’s affinity towards the app is at an all-time high. We’ve employed that tactic here at Prolific on a number of our partner’s apps, asking a user if they’ve had a good experience and either sending them to the App Store to review if they said “yes,” or routing them to a feedback form if it appears they might not have such great things to say.

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However, we often debate the implications this tactic might have on the user experience. At what point do these prompts take away from the utility of the product? It appears Apple has internalized that debate, standardizing the amount of times you can prompt a user with a request to review. With iOS 10.3, Apple puts the cap at just three prompts per user per year. A limit that will certainly push product teams to consider when it’s most advantageous to use your three shots.

Here’s a quick example our Senior iOS Developer, Thibault Klein, mocked up for us.

 

Get Ready To Start Responding To Reviews

As more developers start to understand the importance of using the SKStoreReviewController API, in turn driving more users to the App Store to share their experience, reviews will continue to become table stakes. This latest move only affirms Apple’s emphasis on reviews and how that will continue to influence App Store Optimization.

A service like Apptentive (who also addressed the issue in a blog post of their own), also helps to capture private feedback on top of public App Store feedback. Although there are similarities in these feedback capture methods, companies like Apptentive will likely find their value increased from the iOS 10.3 update. As more apps prompt users for reviews, it will also increase the importance of capturing private feedback and responding to users in a timely fashion. Furthermore, a tool like Apptentive helps us understand when the right time is to prompt a user versus shooting in the dark with just three attempts allowed in a year.

The ability to respond to App Store Reviews will undoubtedly become common practice amongst app developers. Not only will we as product teams be able to apply what we are hearing from our users on the App Store, but we will also be able to let them know how we plan on addressing their concerns. And on the flip side, we’ll also be able to acknowledge our biggest brand advocates and evangelists.

What’s Next For the Apple App Store?

Since the rollout of iOS 10, there has been a strong focus on bolstering the capabilities of the App Store. Apple Search Ads, for example, was a highly anticipated new ad network that developers are still just wrapping their heads around. The App Store submission review process has also improved greatly, with some apps getting approved in just a few days compared to the nearly 10 business day window we saw in previous iterations.

Apple’s continued investment in the App Store is a good sign for developers. As the set of tools continues to improve, so too will the user experience. No longer will growth marketers have as much control of their review prompts, but it puts a best practice around a tactic that felt like something out of the wild west of app development. Only time will tell where the App Store will take things next, but we’re excited to see them embrace such a highly demanded new feature.

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