Hardworking iOS app developers are finally getting a reprieve from busybody app reviewers thanks to a policy update from Apple. Up until this week, users running beta versions of iOS software have been able to leave reviews for apps in the App Store with reckless abandon.
It doesn’t take long to see why this has been a problem. Developers that have created apps for an existing, stable platform (i.e., iOS 8) have been penalized by beta testers leaving negative reviews for their apps running on beta versions of the operating system (i.e., iOS 9). It’s common sense that beta testers might experience app irregularities, crashes, and general wonkiness when running beta software, but developers shouldn’t be penalized for this.
The situation is made even more cringe worthy for developers as they cannot submit fixes for their apps using iOS 9-specific optimization or APIs until iOS 9 is released to the public. Caught between a rock and a hard place, many have taken to Twitter to express their frustrations:
I just saw a 1 star app review cos it doesn't render content on iOS9 Public Beta 1 😅 you're running a beta OS!!!! #ios9publicbeta— Luther Knight (@lutherLDN) July 18, 2015
iOS9 public beta, brace for the 1 star reviews: "App crashes on iOS9 Beta!!! PLEASE FIX!!!" #WWDC15— Matthieu Laban (@mlaban) June 9, 2015
Luckily, Apple has disabled the ability for users to leave these negative reviews when running a beta version of iOS, which is likely a huge relief to app developers. Attempting to leave a review will present the users with a message that states, "This feature isn't available. You can't write reviews while using a prerelease version of iOS."
It’s a small change for sure, but it’s a safeguard that should have been implemented from day one — especially considering that many more millions of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users are running the beta now that Apple has opened it to the public. After all, while iOS developers and enthusiasts (which have weaseled their way into accessing the beta in previous years) understand how apps can go astray during the beta period, the general public tends to not be as forgiving.