Apple catches up with Google and allows developers to reply to reviews in the App Store

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With the launch of iOS 10.3 and macOS 10.12.4, there was great excitement about the arrival of a new file system as well as improvements to performance — even if they were only perceived improvements. Something that didn’t get a great deal of attention, however, is the introduction of replies to reviews.

Just as has been an option in Google Play for years, developers can now respond to the reviews that people leave about their apps and games. It’s something that has been a very long time coming, and finally brings a dialog to the App Store, meaning that users and developers have a two-way channel of communication.

The long-overdue change is an important one. In some instances users have been known to leave bad reviews because they have failed to understand how a feature works, or they have missed an important setting. By giving developers the right to reply, Apple now lets them use the Apple Store as a form of support forum. More than this, the reply feature means that users can ask questions.

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At the moment, it is not clear whether Apple will start to advertise the sort of response times users can expect from different developers, but this is the kind of information that could sway the decision between a choice of a couple of apps.

On its support pages, Apple explains to developers:

Address user feedback directly on the App Store by responding to reviews. You can respond to all reviews of your app, no matter when they were written. When you reply to a review, the customer will be notified of your response and will have the option to update their review. You can edit your response at any time and only one response per review will display on your App Store product page.

Importantly, when a developer replies to a comment or review, the original poster is notified. More than this, they are given the opportunity to edit their review to reflect the fact that something has changed in the app, to acknowledge that they made a mistake, or to provide further information.

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