Apple Manipulating Customer Reviews On Their App Store?

By Kristi Eckert | 2 months ago

app store reviews

Have you ever wondered if the reviews you read online for things can really be trusted? Have you ever perused products on Amazon wondering if the thousands of 5-star remarks for a particular product were genuine? Or have you ever downloaded an app that received a stellar score only to be completely disappointed with what it had to offer? If so, you would not be alone. Many a person has encountered a time where the reality of what they purchased or downloaded did not match the expectation set by its reviews. And, in the case of certain apps, new information has come to light that suggests Apple, in particular, might be implementing some shrewd maneuvers to make it look like certain apps are more well-received than they really are.

According to The Verge, Apple changed how users can leave reviews on one app in particular. The app in question happens to be Apple Podcasts. Apple changed the review architecture entirely for the way in which people could leave a review for that app. Normally, to leave a review one would have to go to the App Store, find the app within the store, and add their comments directly to that app’s particular page. However, with Apple Podcasts, they introduced an in-app review system. Essentially, while a person is listening to their chosen podcast an option to rate their experience and provide feedback will eventually pop up. Interacting with the option will let the person immediately review their in-app experience without interrupting their media.

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Believe it or not, implementing this strategy on Apple Podcasts has actually been very successful. The podcast app’s reputation was once figuratively in the gutter. It only held claim to a measly 1.8 stars out of 5. However, since in-app reviewing was introduced just over a month ago, the podcast’s apps rating jumped to a surprising 4.7 stars. That is nothing short of a complete turnaround. And what’s more, is that Apple accomplished this without lifting a signal finger to improve upon the actual integrity of the podcast app itself. 

So why is this happening? And how did it happen in what amounts to record time? What it appears to come down to, in this specific case at least, is the fact that instead of people reviewing the functionality of the app itself they are reviewing the actual podcast that they are listening to. Twitter personality Kosta Eleftheriou pointed out on his Twitter that the top review, and many others that followed, did not pertain to the architecture of the app at all, but instead to the podcast that they were consuming. 

So, is Apple knowingly tampering with the app store reviews? No, but what they did implement is a clever strategy that could possibly make users think that the in-app prompt is meant to review whatever podcast they are listening to instead of the actual app itself. All in all, it’s a fine line and ultimately, it is something up to the discretion of the user to determine how they want to review a particular app. For instance, many Youtube users choose to review the content of the app rather than the app itself. In that regard, the most important takeaway is to value reviews with a grain of salt, put them into the context they were taken from, and determine from your own experience if a particular app is truly worth your time.