How negative app reviews from iOS beta users could be prevented

iOS 7 is probably the most popular beta release that Apple has ever had for the platform. Almost everyone and their grandparents are running some form of iOS 7 beta, having paid the $99 fee to join the iOS Developer Program.

Unfortunately for developers, this influx of users who aren’t clued up about what a beta release is has led to an increase of unfairly written negative reviews.

Glide:

Video doesn’t work on ios 7 betaby Miked2233$

Just forewarning, ios 7 beta, only the audio works, video stream does not. You will receive your friends video but your friends can’t see you.

Maxim Motion:

iOS 7 Supportby Chriztian09

Doesn’t work with ios 7

Solitaire Blitz:

os 7 update game won’t workby JasminkaXO

The game won’t work on the new ios 7 update for iPhone 5 , I was wondering if you guys could investigate and try to fix because I love the game it’s the best solitaire game out for me thanks

LivingSocial:

iOS 7 Beta 3by FrankeProchazka

It’s perfect app, but I canon open it when I updated to iOS 7 Beta 3. It’s crashing every time when I trying open it.

Negative reviews by users who are somewhat ignorant about beta releases can have a devastating effect on developers and their livelihood. It’s unfair to write a negative review when the software you’re trying to use it with is a work in progress. It’d be like moving in to a house you’re building, only to complain it leaks when it rains even though the roof hasn’t yet been put on.

Reviews, like apps, go through an approval process though I suspect reviews are simply vetted for profanity and any other offensive terms before being published. Just like apps, reviews can be reported but only the developer has any real interest in doing that1. When a developer is busy attempting to update their app for what is the biggest update in iOS history so far, where can they find the time to try and remove these negative reviews?

As Craig Hockenberry points out in his developer survey, over 50% of developers will drop support for iOS 6 entirely when iOS 7 ships, meaning they’re likely rewriting apps from scratch. Apps that aren’t working in iOS 7 beta probably won’t until the new version ships which won’t be until release day or later. You can’t submit an app update that requires iOS 7 exclusively until such time since it won’t get approved and can’t be used by anyone. So until then, the app will remain unsupported.

With that in mind, how can these negative reviews be removed? One suggestion I’ve come up with is to disable app review submissions from beta releases of iOS entirely. Should anyone feel the need to submit a negative review from a device running iOS beta, they could be presented with an alert informing them that their review cannot be submitted.

At the moment, users can submit app reviews from beta versions of iOS2, making it’s all too easy for users to complain that an app doesn’t work, despite it not being the fault of the app’s developer.

I can’t see any reason why app reviews should be submitted from a device running a beta release of iOS. Obviously, they could still submit app reviews through iTunes for Mac or Windows if they wish, but introducing this measure alone would likely see the number of unfair reviews drop sharply.

Update: Amended post title for clarification.

  1. If I see a review that contains the word “iTouch” I don’t just report it to Apple, I report it to the proper authorities. 

  2. Thanks to Gabe Weatherhead of Macdrifter for clarifying.