What App Developers Need to Know About the iOS 10.3 App Store Rating Updates

Read Time: 5 min

The iOS App Store model for reviews has been largely unchanged since iOS 3 came out. Apple’s finally shaking that up, and every app developer out there needs to know what that means for their app. Most visibly, App Store changes mean that you can respond to reviews from users (finally!). Along with that change, though, Apple is also launching a new set of APIs for asking your customers to rate your app with the StoreKit Review Controller. I want to talk through a few of the things we know this does, some of the unknowns, and what changes you’ll need to start thinking about as an app developer.

 

A lot of good conversation has already been happening around the web on these new APIs. The most interesting facts for developers:

  • You can only ask each user for an app review three times a year. Period.
  • Users can opt out of being shown these dialogs from the system settings.
  • If users opt out, have hit their limit, or the OS decides it doesn’t want to bug the user, calling that API fails silently.
  • Apple has gone on the record (with Daring Fireball) stating that you eventually won't be allowed to ask for ratings using any other method (direct links to the app store in a custom popup, for instance).

 

So what does this mean for you as a developer? Mostly, it makes it extra important to ask the right people for those reviews, and to ask in an OS-appropriate way. Make sure you're targeting your review asks carefully so you make the best use of those 3 asks a year. NPS campaigns are a great way to do this.

 

How an NPS Can Increase App Store Rating & User Happiness

 

Some new best practices around this:

  • Ask the user for an NPS rating.

nps-survey-in-app-message-example-1-1.png

  • If it’s 8-10, ask them for an app store rating (via a direct link to the App Store on iOS 10.2 and lower, and via the new APIs on iOS 10.3+).
  • If it’s 1-7, ask them to contact you through support, and - most importantly - exclude these users from targeting for future app rating asks. Localytics makes this easy with our behavioral audiences.
  • You can run separate campaigns targeting your pre-10.3 users to do the older asks for review vs. your 10.3 users, or use special logic tied to a deeplink inside your own app (e.g. “myapp://rate”) to direct the user to the appropriate destination -- either the App Store or a StoreKit Review Controller. Your developers should be able to add a bit of code to route a deeplink to the appropriate place based on the OS version.
  • Once you’ve identified your high-NPS users, segment and target those specific users with asks for app reviews (directly or gated on an in-app message) after they perform critical actions in your app, like checking out or sharing content. Be aware that the OS doesn’t guarantee display of the review dialog, so try to avoid language on UI leading to the ask that implies there’s definitely a review dialog coming up.
    GOOD: “Share successful. [OK]”
    BAD: “Thanks for sharing! Mind rating our app? [RATE NOW]”
    Remember, if you’ve already segmented these users by previous NPS scores, you know they’re likely to give your app a good rating when asked, and the new ratings controller will keep the users inside your app anyways.
  • For the users on iOS 10.3+, you should consider firing those requests off once every 2-3 months since iOS will only show the dialog to users a few times a year each; you can use Localytics in-app frequency capping rules to ensure you spread those asks out.

 

This may sound daunting, but the broad outline is very simple:

  • Find your users that love you.
  • Ask them occasionally - but not too annoyingly - for reviews.
  • If they’re on iOS 10.3 or higher,  use the new APIs to let them rate you without ever leaving your app.
  • If they’re on iOS 10.2 or lower, keep deeplinking them to the App Store for now.

Ultimately, the new limits on rating requests mean app developers have to be strategic about when they make the ask. After all, the restrictions wouldn’t have been put in place if users hadn’t been frustrated by their experience. Use NPS to gauge how users feel about your app, so that you get the kind of positive reviews every app developer wants: the ones that make your app more discoverable, and increase downloads. 

 

As iOS users, we’re excited for the new clean way of asking for reviews. iOS 10.3 is expected to launch in the next few weeks. If you’ve got thoughts about this, comment below to start the conversation, or reach out to your Localytics account manager.

 

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