Apple Just Provided The Perfect Example Of Why You Can’t Trust App Store Review Ratings

You pissed off people by breaking your app a bit and they leave angry reviews. How can you save your reputation? Apple Just Found An Incredibly Effective Way – Getting Listeners To Submit better reviews by interrupting their podcast experience with an in-app prompt to submit a rating.

This is how the Apple Podcasts app went from a publicly embarrassing 1.8-star rating to 4.6 stars in just over a month without any real fixes, as a developer and watchdog of App Store Kosta Eleftheriou points out. And it continues to increase: According to data from AppFigures, the app has achieved thousands of ratings every day since November 9, with the vast majority of them having a 5-star score.

The app has achieved 4.7 stars overall at the time of writing and is firmly the App Store’s # 1 search result for “podcast.” It seems much more desirable to a new user than it might have been before.

AppFigures estimates that 6,292 five-star reviews were submitted on November 17 alone.

If you think there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, you might be right – it could certainly be that people who bother to submit reviews tend to be angry, and a lot of people who like. Apple podcasts and never bothered to search the App Store for them (remember, it’s preinstalled!) finally balances things out.

But do these people Actually Do you like Apple podcasts? Because if you really watch the reviews, it seems like a fun business is going on. There is some positive new reviews, but they’re not reviews of the Apple Podcasts app at all – they’re reviews of the podcasts themselves.

I’m not kidding – this is the best review for Apple Podcasts on the App Store:

Apple considers this to be the “most useful” review for its Podcasts app.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Here are some other “most recent” reviews of the Apple Podcasts app:

  • “Amazing show! Hilarious and well documented,” writes SammyAls, adding, “The dynamics are amazing and the content is SO necessary!
  • “Mobley has depth and insight,” writes xbacksideslider. “Nice to listen to a thoughtful and factual podcast. Far from the superficial emotional appeals to envy and the self-congratulatory false empathy that so dominate popular culture.
  • “The table,” explains Jkimble6091. “Being a future young millionaire by listening to Anthony Oneal keeps me on track through all of life’s ups and downs.”

I was wondering if maybe this was a common confusion with podcast apps, where listeners think they’re reviewing a podcast instead of the app itself. But no, I didn’t see this obvious pattern when I checked out the reviews of the other best podcast apps in the App Store. Almost every competitor app review was a review of the apps themselves.

Apple confirmed The edge that he’s using a new prompt but claims it’s nothing wrong. “With the release of iOS 15.1 last month, Apple Podcasts began to invite listeners to rate and review, like most third-party apps, using the standard review and review prompt. available to all developers, ”a spokesperson tells us.

We haven’t been able to track down a copy of the prompt ourselves to confirm when and where it appears or what it looks like – which seems important if people are confused – but it is indeed a feature. standard from the App Store, one that you can even turn off if you want under Settings> App Store> In-app Ratings & Reviews.

But intentional or not, standard or not, the problem with star scores is that there’s no way to tell if they’re legitimate. We don’t know if someone hit a five-star button because they liked the app, or thought they were rating the podcast themselves, or just wanted to close the prompt as quickly as possible. We don’t know if Apple is inviting everyone, or just its most dedicated fans, or some other algorithmic subset that just gave it an edge. Some bad actors would even buy star scores for their blatant App Store scams, and it’s impossible for most App Store shoppers to tell. We’ve even seen an iOS app that refuses to open unless you give it a good score.

These are the reasons I suggested that Apple should lead the industry in eliminating star ratings for good, among other things it could do to prove that it puts people before profits in the industry. ‘App Store.

But with Apple Podcasts, the company uses the same broken star rating system that elevates crooks for its own sake as well. And that’s a clear example of why you can’t trust star scores – because everyone knows it was a 1.8 star app last month with many valid complaints persist, and nothing has fundamentally changed. It is exactly the same application today as it was then.

About Elaine Morales

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