MacMost Now 888: Writing App Store Reviews

When you download an app from the iOS or Mac App Stores, you have the ability to then go back to the store and leave a review. Here is how to get to the review form. There are also some general guidelines you may want to follow when writing a review. Make sure you review the app, not the App Store system. If the app isn't the one you wanted, don't review the app based on your misconception. Also take price into consideration and don't use the review process as a way to get support from the developer.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 888: Writing App Store Reviews.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's talk about reviewing apps.

So you can review apps in the iOS store for your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad and you can also review apps in the Mac App Store. To review any app you need to go into the App Store for that device.

For instance here I am on the iPad and I'm going to go into the App Store. It is the same for the iPhone and even for the Mac. You go into the App Store.

Then you can go look at the apps you purchased or you can simply search for the app you are looking at. A lot of times the apps have links directly to their pages in the app itself. Anyway you do it you are going to end up going to the page about the app.

For instance this is for my game, Just Word Search. You can see that you've got Details, Ratings and Reviews, and Related. Go to the Ratings and Review section and this is where you can read current reviews and also where, you will notice, there is a Write a Review button.

Now there are actually two different things you can do here. See on the right where there is the five stars and it says Tap to Rate. You can basically just rate the app. That just gives it a star ranking and not a review.

Or you can write a full review. If it is an app that you really care about and you want to praise for something or you have had a big problem with and you want to complain you can write a review.

Tap to Rate is kind of a quick substitute for that. There will be many more ratings than there are actual reviews.

If you tap Write a Review you get this screen here and you can still do the rating at the top and then you can give a title and a review. So the title might me, "Liked it" or "Had a problem" and the review can go into detail about the app.

It is basically the same process in the Mac App Store. You, of course, run the Mac App Store app. You can search for the app and come up with the Search Results. Go into a page and if you scroll down you will find reviews and a Write a Review link and here you can do the same thing. You can rate it, give it a title and write a review. If you just want to rate it you can do that as well. You don't have to write a review. You can hit rate this application right here.

Now some things to think about when writing a review for any app: First is review the app not the app store. For instance if you have had trouble downloading the app or couldn't figure out how to use the app store or install the app, or how to get it to run on your iPad or iPhone, that's not really reviewing the app. That would be the equivalent to say writing a movie review based on how easy or hard it was to buy tickets at the theater. So make sure you are reviewing the actual app itself and not the app store experience.

Another guideline is to review the app that you downloaded, not the app that you expected. For instance, say you want an app that would help you write a screenplay. You see a word processing app that you think might be interesting and you download that. Then you find out there is no real screenplay ability in it. It is just a regular word processor.

Well, it wouldn't really be fair to review that app saying this didn't help me write a screenplay when the app wasn't claiming to help you write a screenplay. That would be like reviewing a superhero movie by saying it wasn't a very good romantic comedy.

Now a big guideline is remember not to use reviews to ask for support. You see this all over the app stores. Somebody has a problem with the app or doesn't understand how to use something and they use review to basically write a question or complain about not knowing how to do something.

You see the developer has no way of knowing who writes a review. That information is hidden from the developer. So if somebody asks a question or wants a new feature, or something in the app and they do it as a review the developer has no way to get in touch with them. They can't do anything except let that review just sit there and let that person be frustrated that they never heard back from the developer.

Notice that there was a support link next to the review link and also most apps will have a way, inside the app, to get support. Or you can just go to the page for the app and usually there is a support link there. That is the way to contact the developer and ask them for help not writing a review which will give you no way to get actual feedback from the developer.

Another thing to take into account is cost when doing a review. For instance if you are a car reviewer you wouldn't hold a $15000 economy car to the same standard as an $80000 luxury car. There are a lot of apps that are free or even just 99 cents or two or three bucks. You don't want to hold those to the same standard as say desktop apps that my cost $50 or $100.

As an app developer I would like to say it is really important to take your time to think about what you are writing when you create a review. Keep in mind that it might take the developer, who may be one person or a small group, months to create an app. It is a lot of effort and a lot of work. It only takes you a minute to review it and a bad review can completely sink an app, killing all those months of hard work.

So if you really like an app be sure to praise it. If you don't like an app be sure to say so but also give reasons why so you can guide people who are interested in buying that app and tell them really why you didn't like it. Just don't say I hated it. But say I didn't like this app because a, b, and c.

I hope this encourages you to leave good, thoughtful, and conscientious reviews of the apps that you have bought or downloaded for free from the App Stores.

Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.