It’s easy to take for granted the power of word-of-mouth advertising but many people rely on customer or user reviews when deciding about a product or even an app purchase. Unfortunately, review systems have proven to be easily gamed or even inconvenient for people who do actually want to leave legit feedback. Google is rolling out a new In-App Review API for Android to fix the latter problem but it remains to be seen if it won’t worsen the former in turn.
The way Android apps ask for reviews is both jarring and disruptive. As if it weren’t enough to have a popup asking you for a review, the process also forces you to leave the app and dumps you in Google Play Store even just to give a star-based rating. While this system tries to make sure only “real” reviews are made (not that it’s effective anyway), it also ensures more people don’t bother leaving a review or even just a rating at all.
The new In-App Review API uses a pop-up to ask the user to rate the app or write a review right then and there. They won’t have to leave the app and they can even opt to just give a few stars rather than type some text. It’s instant, quick, convenient, and probably open to abuse.
Google does give some reminders on when it’s best to ask users for such reviews but, of course, it’s really up to developers to decide on that. The API also has a cap so that users don’t get continuously bombarded by review requests if they opt to ignore it. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a “do not ask again” option available.
Some more “enterprising” developers will probably find a way to bypass those mechanisms or find new ways to pester users for apps. Google also warns about having some button that triggers that in-app review process because when the quota is hit, users might be left with a broken experience instead.