There’s been a monumental amount of discussion on tech blogs and podcasts lately about the problems with the “Rate This App” dialog boxes showing up in apps, and as an extension, Apple’s rating system on the iOS App Store. The issue is complex and nuanced and there doesn’t seem to be one clear fix that will satisfy both users and developers. However, some fantastic ideas have been put forth to make improvements to the currently flawed system, and I think two in combination would make for a MUCH better experience all around.

With respect to those pesky “Rate This App” dialog boxes popping up in practically every app, I think Thomas Verschoren has the smartest solution so far: to move the action into a share sheet, similar to the ones we see for Twitter, Facebook, email et cetera, and give users the ability to write a review that resolves with one of two options: Vote Up or Vote Down, which would turn App Store rankings into a simpler, more democratic system similar to promoting articles on reddit. 

App review in a share sheet (concept by Thomas Verhoven)

App review in a share sheet (concept by Thomas Verhoven)

But, I think what would extend this system to its fullest would be to implement what Collin Donnell suggested: get rid of star ratings and reduce reviews to two features.

Without a way to try an app before purchasing, getting rid of app reviews entirely doesn’t make any sense. The 1-5 star rating part of reviews though? Kill it and leave these options for reviews:

  • The ability to leave a written review with a title and subject.
  • The ability to mark other reviews useful or not.

Imagine an App Store devoid of meaningless, gamed star ratings, that provides only the context of real users’ words to guide you. A place where the cruft of app store reviews (the ones that slam a developer for a bug they hadn’t yet discovered) would be pushed away to make way for a meaningful dialogue: between you, the app downloader/buyer, and the users who came before you, who either genuinely liked or disliked the experience.

And once you’re inside the app, if you feel compelled to leave a review, you can find that option in the app’s settings, write a review from right inside the app and carry on with your day.

Perhaps this would lead us closer to the “Good App Store” discussed on Accidental Tech Podcast #44. I hope so. If not, perhaps the folks on Big Talk can sort it for us, even if it takes all night.

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