I can’t wait to reply to App Store reviews in iOS 10.3


App Store reviews can make or break an app
App Store reviews can make or break an app. Soon, developers will get a chance to answer their critics.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac
  • Undivided

    Give me a break, if your app sucks, free or 1.99 wont matter. Let me tell you and all the developers something. Greed will get you nothing but 1 stars. Make a game thats free and charge people real money in order to continue playing and you will rightfully be considered nothing but a greedy developer who deserves their one star reviews. Boo hoo, cry me a river.

    • Leovinius

      Oh FFS he’s just explained how his ratings dropped through freeloaders such as yourself! How about YOU build a free app? Can you do that? Or can you only take, take, take and moan?

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      • It Was Never Just 42

        Did you actually read and comprehend Undivided’s post? I did, and nowhere did I see them saying apps should be free. The comment was about freemium subscription apps. Seems to me Undivided was perfectly happy to pay for apps. However the idea of charging money to continue using the app beyond a certain time is what’s at issue here. Especially if said app USED to be a paid app, now leaving original paid users high and dry.

        The developer of iCab got it right by grandfathering existing users before going for in app purchases.

      • The princely sum of $1.99 as a one-off payment only goes so far, and can’t fund app developers to keep making updates in perpetuity. By going the route we did, we were able to provide our “original paid users” with ongoing support and iOS compatibility updates, enabling them to continue to enjoy the features they had paid for. They were not left “high and dry”. Quite the opposite. Those updates the “original paid users” are receiving are in fact being funded by the new premium subscribers.

      • GJ

        The one-off payment is because a faulty App Store pricing policy. If one could charge for updates, this would be different. But at the same time, how can big apps like Camera+ and Pixelmator make ends meet? I know Camera+ have a couple of filter packs for sale in the app, but Pixelmator bases their revenue solely on the one-off payment.

      • Agreed – it would be a big help if developers could charge for updates. Pixelmator is more expensive (especially the Mac version) so I guess that helps. But also, they are very popular and that helps too – as long as their user-base keeps growing, the one-off payment model is sustainable. But it’s telling that even the likes of Adobe and Microsoft have now switched to subscription.

      • I was paid 104000 dollars last 12 months by doing an internet based job and I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r several hours during the day. I tried work opportunity I found out on the internet and also I am delighted that I was in a position to earn such decent cash. It is really newbie-friendly and therefore I’m so grateful that I discovered out regarding it. Check out exactly what I do… http://ipt­.­pw/vhH7x5

      • GJ

        Im pretty against the subscription model for software, as long as its not depending on running costs for back-ends, but with the current revenue model, there is not any viable models other than subscription.

        The company I work for, found its niche in developing internal apps for entrerprises, and that really pays the bills. The indie dev has a real struggle, unless they get a really big user base.

        The model Overcast has gone for, is also pretty exciting. I really love that Marco booted the closed source libraries, and went for selling his own ads.

      • Yeah – I don’t like software subscriptions either. We held out for ages, but in the end we concluded we had to give it a try.

      • Undivided

        Spot on 42. I am perfectly content in paying for apps. Charging money to continue game play is the issue and should be a model that gors the way of the dinosaurs.

      • Undivided

        Wow…talk about missing the point entirely.

    • GrangerFX

      Trolling much?

      • It Was Never Just 42

        Misreading much?

      • Undivided

        LOL….so you troll my comment. How about you allow others their opinion. Or are you so childish that a differing opinion really upsets you?

  • Deplorable Lance Corvette

    Reviews are (a) a necessary evil; (b) here to stay; and (c) all of the above.

    I think by now most people know how to sift through reviews and parse the good ones (well written, explain their points) and bad ones (snarky, complain but don’t explain). I agree with the author that the star rating can make or break though. The app store resets star ratings/reviews for each upgrade and also gives the option for seeing all ratings since the apps inception, or “most recent” to see the trend. To me this seems like a good idea – see how the upgrade is doing before deciding to use it, without the clutter of reviews from years ago when the app may not have been as well designed.

  • I was paid 104000 dollars past 12 months by doing an internet job and I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r several hours each day. I tried job opportunity I found on the net and therefore I am thrilled that I was succeed to earn such good money. It’s actually newbie-friendly and therefore I am so pleased that I found out regarding it. Read through exactly what I do… http://ru­.­vu/b13PO

  • GrangerFX

    All great points. How do you feel about Apple hiding reviews every time you do an app update? This is Apple punishing app developers for improving their apps and fixing bugs. It is also Apple discouraging users from leaving reviews since they will know they will be hidden in the near future. By all means show the version of the app that was reviewed but don’t hide them! It is hard enough getting users to leave reviews so hiding them helps no one. Yes you can click show all reviews but let’s face it. No one bothers with that. They just tap on an app and see no reviews and move on.

    • I completely agree. It doesn’t make sense to wipe away reviews for every update. I wonder if it makes sense for the App Store to distinguish between minor and major updates.

  • chatterbox

    I see your point about free apps and think your thumbs up/down idea is a good solution. I hope going forward you will at least allow a trial period for your apps. As a user in the prime marketing target group, I will not pay for (or even consider) apps costing more than 9.99, apps with reoccurring monthly charges or apps that I can not try first to see if it meets my needs. However, I am willing to pay yearly to keep the apps I buy and love up to date.

    • We made our app freemium precisely so that users could try before they buy. Also, we use Apple’s one month free trial feature, so users can try out the premium service too.

  • Richard Hallas

    I have a lot of sympathy with this article and what the developer says. However, there’s one aspect that I don’t particularly agree with, and that’s the “No good deed goes unpunished” section.

    Thing is, switching from paid to freemium is portrayed as a good thing. But is it, really? And who is it good for? The users or the developers?

    I’ve just had a look at the home page for this app, and it looks really good. I should say that I am NOT a gym user myself, and am never likely to be one, so the app actually holds no appeal for me at all… but if it were something I wanted, I’d definitely check it out as its website makes it look interesting and really nicely designed.

    Now, if I’d bought this app at $1.99, which is apparently what it cost, doubtless I’d think I’d got a fantastic deal. It’s a trivial amount of money for an app that’s likely to be lastingly useful, and as such it could have been one of the real bargains I’d found on the App Store.

    But if, having bought the app, it suddenly went free and expected me to pay for a subscription (even if, as a paid user, it gave me some perk or other in compensation), that wouldn’t be terribly welcome. My reactions would probably be:

    (a) I’ve wasted the $1.99; if only I’d waited a while, I wouldn’t have had to pay it.

    (b) The developers are now on a quest to find ways of extracting money from me on a regular basis. The app that I paid $1.99 for, for open-ended use without further fees, has now turned into an app that requires me to pay $12 (or whatever it may be…) a year for, in an ongoing manner.

    So, the premise that going freemium is a ‘good deed’ isn’t really true, is it? It means that, instead of paying $2 once, users will be paying $1 per month ‘forever’, which is hardly a bargain in the same class.

    Please don’t flame me for pointing this out. I’m just outlining what a typical reaction will be from an average user, and why the move generated a lot of negative feedback.

    I’m not actually condoning this ‘cheapskate view’ myself. I understand that a lot of developers on the App Store don’t make much money from sales of their apps, and there’s a very good chance that one-off payments of $1.99 purchase-once apps simply won’t cover the development costs, let alone let the developers bask in luxury. I imagine that, for an app like this one, a $1-per-month subscription is actually extremely good value, if the app is something you use all the time.

    But the point is just that users have long ago cottoned on to the fact that “free” doesn’t mean “free” any more. “Free” these days generally means “we’re going to screw you out of as much money as we can possibly get away with through in-app purchases and ongoing subscriptions”. A $1-per-month subscription to something sounds (and indeed is) trivial… but if you find yourself subscribing to lots of apps (and software on the desktop, as subscriptions are the unwelcome new software sales model…), it all adds up.

    So I’m not arguing against what this developer has done. I fully understand and sympathise with the move to freemium in this case. But at the same time, I can also see why users haven’t liked it, and why it’s generated bad reviews. It’s made all the worse by the fact that the app was once not free, because the move to a free (but with hidden in-app purchases) model feels like a broken promise to all the people who’ve paid for the app already. If the app had been free with an in-app subscription from the outset then this problem wouldn’t have arisen, I suspect – or would have been much less severe.

    I think this is a good illustration of the dangers of switching to freemium. Developers want to see it as doing their users a favour, but in most case it isn’t. In most cases, what it equates to is the developers finding ways of persuading their users to pay more (and quite possibly very substantially more) than they’d have paid otherwise with the one-off up-front payment.

    As I say, I’m not actually arguing against this. It’s not wrong in principle, and clearly developers need to live too. But I do think that the freemium model is also abused and pretty heavily exploited by certain game-makers, which is another reason why so many people hate it so much.

    As for doing users a favour by going freemium… well, there’s only one situation in which I really agree with that as a general principle, and that’s when it’s done in order to create a ‘demo mode’. If you’re a game developer (say; it’s the most likely scenario) and your game app used to cost $1.99, then you change it to be Free with restrictions, and allow the full version to be unlocked for $1.99… well, that equates to the same thing in the end, but it gives your users the ability to try out the game first, so THAT’s doing your users a favour by going free.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t particularly recommend that either. A price of $1.99 is so low that a lot of people will just pay it to get your app, if they think they’ll like it. But if they can download it for free first, then there’s a much higher chance that they won’t decide to pay for it, so the idea of going free backfires on the developer again. Overall, that’s another argument against Freemium!

    I think the moral of the story is: if you’re going to issue a Freemium app, make it free from the start. Any attempt to change a paid app to a free one is likely to backfire.

    And freemium isn’t a bad idea in principle, but in reality it’s become so widespread, and is so widely abused (or at the very least annoying), that developer should approach it with GREAT CARE.

    • I think you make some good points here, and this is, in part, why we got negative reviews with the freemium switch. But equally I think those negative reviews missed some very important points:

      1. Users who previously purchased our app continue to have access to all the features they paid for without having to pay a cent extra. The subscription service is only for *additional* features added after we switched to the freemium model, like our new watch app.

      2. When I say “good deed” – I don’t mean for our existing users. It is a good deed for the *new* users who are getting something for free that used to cost money. The bad reviews appear to come from causal free downloads – not existing users of the app.

      3. When you buy an app, there is no guarantee you’ll be able to use it forever. Consider all the apps that are about to stop working when Apple scraps support for 32bit apps in iOS 11. Ongoing development is required to keep apps compatible with new versions of iOS – and that costs money. You can’t blame app developers for this – or even Apple. It’s just progress :)

      4. The premium subscriber option (it is just an option, not required) benefits all users – including non-subscribers, since the ongoing revenue from this will fund future updates to keep both the free and paid versions compatible with updates to iOS.

      5. The only other option I can see would have been to create a new and separate “Reps & Sets Pro” app. This way, the old app could have retained the one-off up-front payment model. But over time the old app would have become out of date because our development efforts would naturally focus on the new subscriber app. So we genuinely made this decision because we thought it was in the best interests of all our users – including the existing ones.

      No one likes it when they pay for something that subsequently becomes free. It drives me mad when I buy some cool new Apple kit, only for them to release something better and cheaper a few months later. But that’s life. I know Apple has to do this stuff to stay competitive, and as an Apple user I benefit from that over time. The same is true with indie app developers.