Apple has added the ability for developers to reply to reviews, finally giving app creators an outlet to respond to user critiques. Developers can now respond to any review — no matter when it was written — and after an Apple moderator approves the reply, the user will be notified of the response. After that, the user will be given the option to update their review, and then the developer can also update their response, providing a way for both sides to discuss (or argue over) any concerns. No matter how many times the response is edited, only the most recent version will be displayed on each review, and Apple is still moderating all posts to maintain some sense of decorum.
The company has also rolled out its StoreKit API with the release of iOS 10.3, allowing developers to streamline the process for requesting app reviews. Instead of sending the users out of the app and into the App Store to leave a review, the new process allows the user to leave a rating and/or review without ever leaving the app. Developers also won’t be on the hook for writing their own code to create the review prompt any more, but Apple will now limit the maximum number of requests to three per year and prevent apps from prompting too frequently, where before it was at the whim of the developer. So far Apple hasn’t made updating to the new system mandatory, so developers can decide whether they want to hand over so much control over their review requests to Apple. While the beta version of iOS 10.3 provided an option for users to opt out of receiving the prompts altogether by toggling the options within the iTunes & App Store section in Settings, the option appears to be absent from the final version of iOS 10.3, despite the feature being mentioned in Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines. Why Apple would leave out the feature is unknown, but could have been the result of developer feedback or concerns that the setting won’t actually function properly until more developers switch over to the new StoreKit API.