Under the Radar

64: App Store Reviews, Redux


00:00:00   Welcome to Under the Radar,

00:00:01   a show about independent iOS app development.

00:00:04   I'm Marco Arment.

00:00:05   - And I'm David Smith.

00:00:06   Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes,

00:00:08   so let's get started.

00:00:10   So today we are going to be talking

00:00:12   about reviews in the App Store.

00:00:14   - Again.

00:00:15   - Again, so if you're an eagle-eared listener of the show,

00:00:18   you will realize that just two weeks ago in episode 62,

00:00:22   we were talking about reviews in the App Store,

00:00:24   and little did we know that here we are a fortnight later,

00:00:27   we would be doing it again.

00:00:29   Not necessarily the plan,

00:00:31   but Apple announced yesterday as a recording

00:00:34   a bunch of updates specifically around iOS 10.3,

00:00:38   and included in that is a fairly substantial pair of changes

00:00:43   to the review system in the App Store,

00:00:45   and so it seemed kind of only appropriate

00:00:47   to follow up on that, to talk about it,

00:00:50   just because now sort of going forward,

00:00:53   whatever we said two weeks ago is going to have to make sense

00:00:57   in this broader context that Apple is changing.

00:01:00   So the short version is Apple is introducing two changes.

00:01:03   The first is a standardized way for asking for reviews

00:01:07   modally within your applications,

00:01:10   with a thing called SK Store Review Controller,

00:01:13   and then the second thing they're doing is

00:01:15   they're going to be changing the App Store itself

00:01:19   to allow developers to respond to customer reviews

00:01:23   that are written in the App Store.

00:01:25   So we'll kind of work through those individually,

00:01:27   but I'm probably starting off by talking about

00:01:29   the new modal display that we can get.

00:01:32   It's probably worth saying this is actually not

00:01:34   the first time that Apple has had a modal

00:01:37   would you like to review this application dialogue.

00:01:40   (laughing)

00:01:42   The first version of this,

00:01:43   which you have to have been doing iOS development

00:01:45   for a while to remember,

00:01:47   there used to be a thing in the App Store

00:01:48   where when you deleted an app, only when you deleted it,

00:01:52   when you deleted it, it would pop up and say,

00:01:54   "Before you delete this app,

00:01:55   "would you like to leave a review?"

00:01:57   - So bad. - Yeah.

00:01:58   I'm not sure where they thought this would be a great idea

00:02:01   that someone who has actively said,

00:02:05   "I no longer want this app,"

00:02:07   and then you ask them, "Well, what did you think about it?"

00:02:09   - And that was the only time

00:02:10   they were ever prompted to review apps.

00:02:13   - Yeah. (laughing)

00:02:14   Surprising, not unsurprisingly,

00:02:16   there were a lot of one-star reviews

00:02:17   that came through that system.

00:02:19   So this one's better.

00:02:22   So the new system, which I'll just briefly overview,

00:02:24   is there's a new method,

00:02:26   like I said, the SKStoreReviewController in StoreKit

00:02:29   that you can call a method that just says request review.

00:02:33   And this method is interesting

00:02:36   because it doesn't pop up necessarily a modal display.

00:02:39   It's probably worth saying this is always modal.

00:02:41   This is not like a button that you can push

00:02:45   in your apps in your app and then have it bring it up.

00:02:48   This is something where it's always gonna be

00:02:49   slightly an interruption

00:02:52   in terms of the way they're structuring it.

00:02:53   Because you call this method and you say,

00:02:55   "This is probably a good time

00:02:58   "to request an App Store review."

00:03:00   You have no guarantees as to whether

00:03:01   that modal will actually pop up then or not.

00:03:04   We'll get into reasons a bit later,

00:03:07   but Apple is keeping control over whether anything

00:03:09   is actually shown to you.

00:03:11   But you can say this is a good time.

00:03:13   So say, for example, like the usual examples

00:03:16   that people will throw around is

00:03:17   a customer completes something

00:03:19   that would make sense.

00:03:20   That say, "I have an audiobook app," which I do.

00:03:23   And say you have just finished a book.

00:03:26   That may be a good time to prompt them to write a review.

00:03:31   They've just completed this thing,

00:03:32   hope that they enjoyed it,

00:03:33   they now have a full sense of the app.

00:03:34   It's not really an interruption in the same way

00:03:36   because it's not like they're opening up the app

00:03:39   to go and listen.

00:03:40   They just finished listening to all of their things.

00:03:44   And so now may be a reasonable time.

00:03:46   But you can say this is a good time.

00:03:48   And if Apple says it's a good idea,

00:03:50   it'll pop up and show this alert to them.

00:03:53   And they're also adding a slightly,

00:03:55   they're tweaking things a little bit

00:03:56   in terms of giving us an explicit URL

00:03:59   to link out to the App Store with deep linking

00:04:03   if we still wanna do the setting screen version.

00:04:07   That's now sort of part of this,

00:04:09   but that's not really part of the SDK.

00:04:11   They're saying in the documentation

00:04:13   that if you wanna do a modal pop-up in the app

00:04:16   to leave a review, use this new request review method.

00:04:19   If you would still like to have a button

00:04:21   in your setting screen,

00:04:22   here's the query parameter that you can add to the end.

00:04:26   Overall, I think, I mean,

00:04:29   mostly what I love about this

00:04:31   is that Apple is taking this seriously

00:04:33   and doing something about it.

00:04:34   I think it's been a problem for,

00:04:37   I mean, it's been years now

00:04:38   that we've had this situation

00:04:40   where there's so much ambiguity,

00:04:42   there's no leadership on the App Store policy side

00:04:45   of things about this.

00:04:45   And so you end up with this weird kind of asymmetric warfare

00:04:48   where having five star in the App Store

00:04:53   is an important thing for sales.

00:04:54   The best way to get that is to keep bugging your users

00:04:57   to give you those reviews.

00:04:58   And if you do that, you'll be rewarded with more downloads,

00:05:01   and that creates this vicious cycle

00:05:03   that if you don't wanna get into that,

00:05:04   then your app's at a disadvantage

00:05:06   'cause you don't, if you're comparing my app,

00:05:08   which has 20 or 30 reviews,

00:05:11   to an app that has 200 or 300 reviews, it looks bad.

00:05:13   And so at least what I like here

00:05:15   is that Apple is saying,

00:05:16   this is an important thing for us to dive into.

00:05:18   This is something that they wanna have some control over.

00:05:21   And then obviously, I love the way

00:05:23   that in classic Apple fashion,

00:05:25   they're maintaining a lot of control about it,

00:05:27   that it isn't an API that we can always pop up a dialog for

00:05:32   in the same way that when they added the Mail Compose UI,

00:05:36   where we can write emails within our apps

00:05:38   without having to go out to the Mail app,

00:05:40   they did that in a way that we can always pop that up.

00:05:42   It's not like we're going to request,

00:05:44   we're gonna request a Compose page and it doesn't show up.

00:05:47   - That actually isn't true,

00:05:48   but you could query it to determine

00:05:50   whether it was enabled or not.

00:05:52   - Sure, but I think what you're saying there

00:05:54   is like the can send mail part,

00:05:56   which is, does the user have Mail configured on their iPhone?

00:05:59   But assuming they have a Mail account

00:06:02   configured with their iPhone,

00:06:03   it'll always show up is what I'm getting at.

00:06:06   But here, Apple has the ability

00:06:08   to dial this backwards and forwards.

00:06:10   And so they've initially said through a couple of interviews,

00:06:13   it seemed like they gave to Daring Fireball

00:06:16   and Jim Delramped at The Loop,

00:06:18   they're gonna basically,

00:06:22   if you're never gonna show a user a prompt

00:06:24   more than three times a year, I believe,

00:06:26   and if they set a, if they actually do send a review,

00:06:31   they won't be asked again for a year.

00:06:33   So if you asked, you know, every time the app launched,

00:06:35   you said, "Hey, it's a great time to send a review,"

00:06:38   after doing that three times,

00:06:39   it'll stop working in a transparent way to you

00:06:43   for a whole year.

00:06:44   And there's also a master switch in the settings app

00:06:47   that a customer can say, "I never wanna see these."

00:06:49   And if you flip that switch,

00:06:51   irrespective of how much the developer is saying,

00:06:53   "Hey, review me, review me, review me,"

00:06:55   it'll never actually work.

00:06:57   Which, overall, I think this is a good step forward.

00:07:00   I'm not sure if I'm gonna use it.

00:07:02   I think I probably won't initially,

00:07:05   'cause it's still modal,

00:07:06   and I'd rather just use the deep linking into the App Store

00:07:09   from a button in my settings page.

00:07:12   But I like, at the very least,

00:07:14   that Apple is diving into this and taking it seriously.

00:07:17   Do you think you're gonna use it?

00:07:18   - Probably not for the same reason of, you know,

00:07:21   it is still modal and everything.

00:07:23   But I really do love, like, this is such,

00:07:28   you know, as you said, this is such like an amazing,

00:07:30   a very Apple-y solution to a problem.

00:07:33   It's so clever, and it's like, you know,

00:07:35   here was this problem of the developers

00:07:37   having a very strong incentive

00:07:38   to make the user experience worse for people.

00:07:41   And, you know, it was extra work for developers, too,

00:07:44   to have to integrate some library

00:07:46   or to build their own, you know, little pop-up things.

00:07:48   And, you know, so it was like,

00:07:49   you take this kind of dirty, messy problem,

00:07:53   and you apply a really elegant combination of solutions

00:07:55   to it, which is, we're gonna standardize this,

00:07:57   we're gonna make it easier when people

00:07:59   do wanna leave ratings.

00:08:00   'Cause like, have you seen the box yet?

00:08:01   It's like, the one in the beta,

00:08:03   like, it just pops up with a little, like, you know,

00:08:05   one through five stars and submit.

00:08:07   And so, it's actually easier to submit ratings

00:08:10   this way as a user, 'cause you don't have to bounce

00:08:12   into the App Store app and submit something there

00:08:14   and log in, type in your password.

00:08:16   You just have it all in a modal dialog

00:08:18   right there in the app.

00:08:19   So, it's easier for the developer,

00:08:20   'cause it's one line of code.

00:08:22   It's easier for the user, because you actually

00:08:24   leave the rating, and it's faster and everything.

00:08:27   And, in the most typical, wonderful Apple fashion,

00:08:30   it puts all the control of this back on the user.

00:08:33   So the user can then, as you see, go into that setting,

00:08:35   go into system settings and disable these globally,

00:08:38   if they want to.

00:08:40   And then, the developer has no way to tell

00:08:43   whether they're enabled or not,

00:08:44   and whether it's showing or not.

00:08:46   So, in theory, this is an amazing solution

00:08:50   for both developers and for users,

00:08:51   and for usability of the platform,

00:08:53   'cause it kinda tames this messy thing

00:08:56   that we all have a very strong incentive to do.

00:08:59   In practice, so, and again, in theory,

00:09:02   the way this works is that, at a future time,

00:09:06   that is as yet unspecified, by the way,

00:09:09   I gotta say, I really am not crazy about

00:09:12   the way Apple has very minimally documented this

00:09:17   on the page, and then has given additional documentation

00:09:21   through PR channels to a couple of blogs.

00:09:24   Like, that, I think, is odd.

00:09:26   I know, I can see why they do it.

00:09:28   I assume they do it so that way they can be

00:09:30   a little bit fuzzy and squishy with the rules

00:09:32   and change them later as they evolve

00:09:34   and as the situation evolves and as they learn

00:09:36   how these things are used in practice.

00:09:38   But I don't like the idea that you have to be

00:09:40   monitoring different blogs from people who are,

00:09:43   you know, PR friendly with Apple

00:09:45   in order to get the whole picture of what the rules are

00:09:47   and what the mechanics are.

00:09:48   I think it would be a lot more effective for Apple

00:09:51   to just expand the documentation up front,

00:09:54   make that part of the official statement,

00:09:56   and then we worry about later, you know,

00:09:59   the process of changing that as policies evolve,

00:10:01   because abstract policy changes, it's a thing.

00:10:04   Like, hiding the information between different blogs

00:10:07   and PR channels to try to, like, obfuscate it

00:10:09   so most people don't hear it is not the right solution.

00:10:12   Anyway, so one of the bits of information

00:10:15   that is kind of unclear and told through PR channels

00:10:17   in various ways is that it will be required

00:10:22   at some point in the future that all review prompts

00:10:27   use this API and that other types of review prompts

00:10:30   will be prohibited.

00:10:31   That data's not yet been set,

00:10:32   but at some point that will be the case.

00:10:34   The requirement that these things be only sent in this way

00:10:38   and to disallow other types of prompting

00:10:41   is required for this to be a good user experience,

00:10:44   because without that part, you're gonna have no incentive

00:10:48   for a lot of developers to use it.

00:10:49   It is faster, yes, but developers are gonna find,

00:10:52   especially like big data-driven corporations

00:10:54   like, you know, Twitter, Instagram, stuff like that,

00:10:56   they're gonna find, well, we get more reviews

00:10:58   if we just ask the old way,

00:10:59   because that can't be disabled or throttled by the system.

00:11:02   So, and the other interesting part, of course,

00:11:05   is like all the different obfuscation

00:11:07   that developers put in front of these things often.

00:11:08   Like, they'll be like, how are you liking the app so far?

00:11:11   And if you say you're loving it,

00:11:13   then they'll ask you to review it.

00:11:14   And if you say, I'm not loving it so much,

00:11:16   they'll be like, oh, please contact us privately.

00:11:18   So there's all this, all this like mess

00:11:20   to have to work through.

00:11:21   But unless developers are forced to only use this system,

00:11:26   it's not gonna get better for users.

00:11:28   And Apple has said, yes, they intend to do that.

00:11:30   In the future, they intend to make that a requirement.

00:11:31   My question is, how are they gonna enforce that?

00:11:35   Because already today, you have clear rules

00:11:40   against using push notifications for spam,

00:11:44   marketing, promotion, things like that.

00:11:47   And you look around, like every game uses it for promotion.

00:11:51   Every news app, like every big company app,

00:11:53   Twitter, the App Store uses notifications sometimes

00:11:57   for promotional purposes and marketing purposes.

00:12:01   Like, Apple can't even follow that rule.

00:12:03   They break it all the time.

00:12:04   Everyone breaks that rule all the time.

00:12:07   And even though there's app review rules against it,

00:12:09   I assume one of the reasons why that rule

00:12:12   goes almost completely unenforced, even unfollowed by Apple,

00:12:16   is that it's really hard to actually enforce that

00:12:19   in practice without adding like a report mechanism in the UI.

00:12:22   Because the only way Apple's gonna catch people

00:12:25   sending spam notifications, or marketing,

00:12:27   however they define that, is if it happens

00:12:29   during like the five minutes they're reviewing it

00:12:31   during app review, and that's very unlikely.

00:12:34   And so in practice, that just goes effectively unenforced,

00:12:37   and spam/promotional push notifications are rampant.

00:12:42   And with this system, this new review system,

00:12:46   I wonder if that's gonna, like how is that

00:12:48   gonna be any different?

00:12:49   Because if the rule starts to become,

00:12:52   well, you have to use this mechanism only

00:12:54   to ask people to review you in the App Store,

00:12:57   when are they gonna actually enforce that?

00:12:59   They're not gonna have people using every app

00:13:01   on the App Store for three days

00:13:02   to see if they get prompted or not.

00:13:04   And so the only way to enforce that

00:13:07   is to have some kind of reporting system after the fact.

00:13:10   But I can't possibly see Apple gumming up the UI of iOS.

00:13:14   Like where would it be, like the 3D touch menu,

00:13:15   like where the share thing is?

00:13:17   I can't see them gumming up the iOS UI anywhere

00:13:21   with like a report bad behavior of this app button.

00:13:23   I mean, it'd be interesting if they did.

00:13:25   I'm not sure if that would be overall good

00:13:27   or not for the system, but for the purpose

00:13:29   of like enforcement of tricky rules like this,

00:13:32   I don't see any other way to do it.

00:13:34   And without that enforcement of that rule,

00:13:36   without very strict enforcement of that rule,

00:13:40   I don't see how the system is gonna actually

00:13:42   fix the problem for developers who have a company

00:13:47   and big data behind them saying

00:13:49   they still have to do it the old way.

00:13:51   - Sure, I mean, I see where you're coming from,

00:13:54   but maybe I have slightly more hope for the future.

00:13:57   Because I see this thing and I see what,

00:14:00   like when they say at some point in the future

00:14:03   this will be the only sanctioned way to do this,

00:14:07   I tend to read this as in iOS 10.3 it'll be fine,

00:14:12   but in iOS 11 it probably won't.

00:14:14   Like if I had to guess at what that timeline will be

00:14:17   is that this June-ish at WWDC,

00:14:21   they'll be unveiling whatever it is

00:14:24   they're gonna be doing for iOS 11,

00:14:25   and as part of the rules that will go into effect

00:14:29   for this fall, this will be one of the new rules,

00:14:33   that if you want to modally prompt a user for a review,

00:14:37   you must do it using the pre-approved API.

00:14:40   The enforcement question is, I mean,

00:14:43   it's always roughed, but just to say

00:14:46   that it's incredibly difficult to enforce or police

00:14:49   doesn't mean that it's not a good policy.

00:14:51   And I think there's ways that Apple

00:14:54   can enforce it programmatically,

00:14:56   both in terms of, obviously they know

00:15:00   when people are leaving reviews.

00:15:05   They know where they're coming from,

00:15:07   what they were doing before that.

00:15:09   There's a certain amount of exposure

00:15:11   that they have on the data side,

00:15:12   that if an app is seeming to send users

00:15:17   to the App Store to leave reviews,

00:15:21   at a pace that seems inconsistent

00:15:24   with the install base, for example.

00:15:26   My guess is they have a fairly good sense

00:15:28   of what the typical rate for reviews for an app

00:15:33   based on how many people are using it is and things.

00:15:37   I think they have tools from the data side

00:15:39   and then back in, using, I mean, in many ways

00:15:42   they get sort of piggyback on what they've done

00:15:43   with iTunes Connect Analytics,

00:15:45   which have their drawbacks,

00:15:46   but at least give them a starting point,

00:15:48   that I imagine, with a little bit of math,

00:15:50   you could work out, this app is clearly

00:15:53   getting way more reviews than it should

00:15:56   for using the approaches that we expect.

00:16:01   And from that perspective, and then you can sort of

00:16:04   chase that down and kind of work that out.

00:16:06   But ultimately, exactly how they police it,

00:16:09   I think is, that's an enforcement problem,

00:16:11   that's something that we deal with a lot in the App Store.

00:16:14   And I think, and the unfortunate thing is,

00:16:16   what Apple often seems to do is,

00:16:18   they'll pick a few sacrificial lands to be made of,

00:16:23   and some app is going to get pulled out of the App Store

00:16:28   for a week because they prompted for review

00:16:32   after the policy goes into effect,

00:16:34   and you can kind of scare people

00:16:37   into compliance down the road.

00:16:38   Which is not great if you're that app,

00:16:41   but as you're saying, it's a really hard thing to perform.

00:16:45   - It also doesn't work.

00:16:46   That only works if all iOS developers

00:16:48   are part of the same community

00:16:49   and everyone follows the rules,

00:16:50   and neither of those things are true.

00:16:51   - Sure, but I mean, I think it's one of these things of,

00:16:55   they're never going to get 100% compliance.

00:16:58   But if they can get 80% compliance,

00:17:00   that's still probably good enough.

00:17:02   - Absolutely.

00:17:03   - So I like that it's, this is their policy,

00:17:05   this is where they're heading.

00:17:07   Down the road, there'll be a world where,

00:17:09   most of the time, if you're a user

00:17:11   who just doesn't want to leave reviews,

00:17:13   you can flip a master switch.

00:17:14   Otherwise, you'll be prompted three times a year to do it

00:17:18   in a standardized way with this, you know,

00:17:20   a non-sort of scammy interaction.

00:17:23   And I like that.

00:17:25   But I'm sorry, I mean, I just have more hope for,

00:17:28   that if they've invested all this effort

00:17:31   in building this API and taking this problem seriously,

00:17:35   they're also going to be serious about the enforcement side

00:17:37   and do their best to make that work.

00:17:41   - Yeah, I hope so.

00:17:42   I guess we'll see.

00:17:43   Also, a point of clarification.

00:17:44   You breezed by it earlier, but I do want to clarify,

00:17:46   'cause a lot of people are getting this wrong on Twitter,

00:17:48   that linking people out with a thing,

00:17:51   with like a page, like in your settings,

00:17:53   like what you and I do.

00:17:54   Like, you know, I have my little thing in overcast settings

00:17:56   saying this many people have reviewed this version,

00:17:58   click here to go leave a review.

00:18:00   That's still both possible and allowed.

00:18:04   Apple has clarified that in some of these PR statements,

00:18:06   that you can still do that, that will still work,

00:18:09   it just won't use this API.

00:18:10   You can use this API additionally if you want to,

00:18:13   but linking out to the page via an explicit user action

00:18:16   is still permitted, as long as you didn't do

00:18:19   a modal dialog box, which again,

00:18:20   it's like the distinctions here are gonna make this harder

00:18:22   and hard to enforce, but anyway,

00:18:24   hopefully we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

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00:19:23   - So the other part that we probably should dive into

00:19:25   about this whole system is, so once people have left

00:19:27   the reviews in whatever mechanism you've used

00:19:31   to get them to that page, whether it's the modal pop-up,

00:19:34   you're linking to them from the settings page

00:19:36   in your app store, or in your settings app in your screen,

00:19:39   or they just went to the app store themselves.

00:19:42   In 10.3, we're going to also have the ability

00:19:45   to respond to customer reviews

00:19:48   that are left in the app store.

00:19:50   Exactly how this looks is a bit up to debate,

00:19:53   but I mean, this is something that the Google Play Store,

00:19:55   for example, has had for a while,

00:19:56   so I imagine it'll have a similar kind of appearance

00:19:58   where if you went to the ratings and reviews section

00:20:02   of an app's page, a customer leaves a review,

00:20:05   underneath of it, there may be a little,

00:20:07   you know, there'll be a little bubble that says

00:20:09   that the developer can put some text into,

00:20:12   and there'll probably be some limits

00:20:13   onto the number of characters or things like that,

00:20:16   but the expectation, I think, is that those,

00:20:18   we're going to be going into iTunes Connect,

00:20:21   and there's already, actually, I'm not sure

00:20:24   how many people actually ever go there,

00:20:25   but in iTunes Connect, if you dig around a little bit,

00:20:27   there's actually a ratings and reviews area for your app,

00:20:31   where it shows you all of the reviews

00:20:32   that have ever been left, and my guess is

00:20:34   they're just gonna add a little text box

00:20:36   underneath all of those where we can log in to iTunes Connect

00:20:39   and go through and respond to this,

00:20:41   and I think we've had a few clarifications about this

00:20:44   where it's not going to be like a threaded conversation,

00:20:47   they're not turning the review section into a forum,

00:20:52   but it's going to be, a customer can write a review,

00:20:56   and a developer can write a response,

00:20:58   and both parties can edit the review or the response

00:21:02   as makes sense, but it's not like

00:21:04   we're gonna have a back and forth.

00:21:06   I like this, I think.

00:21:08   I like it mostly just from the perspective of,

00:21:12   one of the most discouraging things you'll ever run into

00:21:15   is when you read a review, which, granted,

00:21:18   I don't do as much anymore, but it's still something

00:21:20   I do from time to time, is you encounter a user

00:21:23   who says they like the app, but they wish it did X,

00:21:28   and maybe they hold a hostage star about that.

00:21:31   Oh, it's a four, they'll give it four stars,

00:21:33   I would give it five if it could do this.

00:21:35   - You're lucky if they only hold one star back for that.

00:21:37   - Or maybe it's a double hostage star situation,

00:21:39   like there's lots of variables that come into play here,

00:21:42   but if they do that, and it turns out the app

00:21:44   actually does that, and they just don't know how to do it,

00:21:46   like this seems like a great tool for being able to say,

00:21:50   hey, if you click on this button,

00:21:53   you are actually able to do this,

00:21:55   and you can hopefully clarify those misunderstandings.

00:21:58   It's obviously not gonna be a great mechanism

00:22:00   to do detailed customer support.

00:22:02   My guess is a lot of developers' responses to these

00:22:06   are just gonna be, I'm sorry you're having trouble with this,

00:22:09   please email me to go deeper on this

00:22:13   and to actually resolve your problem.

00:22:15   So in that sense, it's not gonna be a great venue for that,

00:22:17   but I think it's nice, though,

00:22:19   for if another customer comes around,

00:22:22   and here's this two-star review that says,

00:22:27   hey, the app doesn't do this, or it didn't do this right,

00:22:30   or something like that, and then underneath of it,

00:22:32   it says, there's a developer response that says,

00:22:35   I'm sorry you had this trouble, you can actually do that,

00:22:38   here's how you do it, if you need more help,

00:22:40   send me an email, and I'm happy to walk that through.

00:22:43   That sets up a great, I think it turns

00:22:45   a negative customer experience

00:22:47   into potentially a positive one.

00:22:49   I'm not super excited, though,

00:22:52   that it's another inbox that we have to manage,

00:22:54   and another thing that we just have to keep up with,

00:22:59   there's this new bit of busy work,

00:23:01   but the reality is, overall, I'd rather

00:23:03   a system like this, where at least I can do something

00:23:06   to respond to these misunderstandings,

00:23:10   or these bad reviews, and hopefully

00:23:12   turn them around a little bit.

00:23:13   But the reality is, I'm probably just gonna end up,

00:23:16   so I have hired someone to do my customer support for me,

00:23:19   and this will just likely be another inbox

00:23:21   that he goes through on a regular basis

00:23:23   to respond and clean up, and hopefully

00:23:27   it'll make that section of the App Store

00:23:29   a little bit more useful, I suppose.

00:23:31   Right now, it's just not.

00:23:34   - Yeah, I suppose it'll depend a lot

00:23:35   on what kind of uptake this gets,

00:23:38   and just a lot of the implementation details.

00:23:40   Two weeks ago, when we talked about reading App Store reviews

00:23:42   my position was, I almost never read them,

00:23:44   you don't really need to, I don't think many people do.

00:23:48   For apps that have sufficient star ratings,

00:23:50   they just look at the star rating average,

00:23:51   and then make a decision for the most part,

00:23:52   and there aren't a lot of people who read their review,

00:23:55   so it's not that big of a deal.

00:23:57   And of course, again, all these problems are shifted

00:24:00   and magnified or minimized based on

00:24:03   whether you have a lot of reviews or very few reviews,

00:24:05   but assuming you have a moderate to high amount,

00:24:08   these things all average out, so anyway,

00:24:12   it depends a lot on how many customers

00:24:14   are actually reading these things,

00:24:16   and then also how many developers will be responding.

00:24:19   If it's the kind of thing that's pretty rare,

00:24:21   that almost no developers end up doing

00:24:23   in any kind of reasonable quantity,

00:24:25   and that most customers don't end up expecting

00:24:28   or reading or seeing, then it's completely optional

00:24:31   whether you do it or not, and you probably don't need to,

00:24:33   because that's a lot of time and effort

00:24:35   for zero to one person to see.

00:24:38   But if it ends up being something that is important,

00:24:43   which again, it depends on implementation details,

00:24:45   there's a lot of questions, like where do we respond,

00:24:48   I assume we respond to these in iTunes Connect somewhere,

00:24:51   if so, that is a massive opportunity

00:24:54   for a third-party developer, if you need an idea

00:24:56   for your next Mac app or web service,

00:24:59   make that happen, make it so that you can scrape

00:25:02   all the reviews from all the different languages,

00:25:04   all the different country stores,

00:25:06   have some kind of built-in translation function

00:25:08   and give us a way to reply easily.

00:25:10   You will sell that to every iOS developer who cares.

00:25:13   You can sell that for like 10 bucks a month, easy.

00:25:15   Anyway, anybody who needs an idea, get on that.

00:25:18   If not, app figures, that's your next thing.

00:25:20   All right, so anyway, and a lot of the implementation

00:25:23   details matter, so for instance, is the customer notified

00:25:27   when you respond to their review?

00:25:28   That's a big question, 'cause a lot of these reviews,

00:25:32   I think, are kinda like hit and run,

00:25:35   they're not gonna actually come back and check

00:25:37   to see if you responded most of the time.

00:25:39   Again, if that's not done, if the customer's not notified

00:25:42   that you responded, preferably with your response

00:25:45   in the notification email or whatever,

00:25:47   then it's gonna be a lot less valuable for you to reply.

00:25:51   So again, this depends a lot on the details

00:25:53   that we don't know yet, but I think,

00:25:56   those are my two big questions is like,

00:25:58   will people see your response really en masse?

00:26:00   And then two, will the author of the review

00:26:05   see your response?

00:26:07   That will decide whether this is worth doing or not.

00:26:10   This could turn my advice into yes, go read your reviews

00:26:14   and respond in a reasonable amount of time

00:26:15   to things that deserve a response.

00:26:17   It's probably just gonna be a whole bunch

00:26:20   of form responses from, you mentioned it'll be developers

00:26:25   saying, oh, please email me.

00:26:27   It'll be big companies doing that.

00:26:29   It'll be the big companies where they say,

00:26:32   where every update, they say the changes

00:26:34   and the change log are bug fixes and improvements

00:26:36   to make your life better.

00:26:37   Look at our full review notes at Facebook.com/whatever.

00:26:41   You're gonna see Instagram, Facebook, Twitter,

00:26:44   they're gonna be responding to every single review

00:26:47   with some kind of useless form response.

00:26:49   But it's really up in the air whether people like us,

00:26:53   like smaller developers who will actually respond

00:26:55   in a human fashion and might actually give useful responses

00:26:58   other than please contact us privately,

00:27:00   that remains to be seen how that'll go.

00:27:03   And the value of this system and how much of a support

00:27:07   burden the system is will all depend

00:27:09   on those implementation details

00:27:11   and how many people actually read them.

00:27:14   - What I do like though is that it is,

00:27:15   I think I feel like it provides an opportunity

00:27:18   for a smaller developer to,

00:27:20   like one of the things that I,

00:27:23   when I was early on being independent,

00:27:26   I'd always write things in the third person

00:27:30   and talk as though I was a big company

00:27:33   because I thought that's like, yeah,

00:27:35   we've been working hard on this update.

00:27:37   It's like, no, I've been working hard on this update.

00:27:40   I'm the only one writing code.

00:27:41   It's just me and it's kind of dishonest

00:27:43   to project something otherwise.

00:27:45   And so I do like about this though is that

00:27:48   it does give an opportunity to feel,

00:27:51   it's like to show the world that personal level,

00:27:56   that it's like I can respond to something directly

00:27:59   and in a human authentic way.

00:28:01   And over the longterm, I found that since I stopped

00:28:04   trying to do that and I made things more personal,

00:28:07   I feel like that it has engendered a much higher,

00:28:10   affection's a weird word for something like this,

00:28:13   but it's that same kind of feeling of like people like me

00:28:16   and like my software because they like me.

00:28:19   And so I do like that it's gonna be something

00:28:20   that we can kind of react and be a bit more personal in.

00:28:24   - Yeah, it humanizes us.

00:28:25   And that will make people be less nasty.

00:28:28   - Sure, and I think honestly, that's another example

00:28:31   of something that I hadn't even really thought of,

00:28:32   but I wonder if too, if it'll improve the quality

00:28:37   of reviews that are left.

00:28:39   In the same, we always joke about,

00:28:40   oh, we never read our reviews, they're also awful and nasty.

00:28:42   But if customers who leave nasty reviews

00:28:45   start being responded to by humans and people,

00:28:50   they may be less inclined, at least for some people,

00:28:53   maybe less inclined to leave those reviews

00:28:55   than if they, if in their mind, they're just kind of,

00:28:58   it's a big megaphone that they can just shout at the world

00:29:02   and then run away from.

00:29:03   If it's actually like, they shout at the world

00:29:06   and then the person who they were shouting at

00:29:08   comes back and talks to them in a calm, collected way,

00:29:11   maybe they'll second guess that choice next time

00:29:15   and it'll improve the discord.

00:29:16   Maybe that's just, again, me just,

00:29:17   my hopeful wishful thinking, but you know, a man can dream.

00:29:21   - All right, and with that, we are out of time.

00:29:24   Thank you everybody for listening

00:29:26   and we'll talk to you next week.

00:29:28   - Bye.