A major feature of the App Store are the user reviews about the software being offered. There’s just one problem: software is not music. I’ve never had an MP3 crash or lack features. Applications also evolve and improve; I’m pretty sure the Jimi Hendrix track I’m listening to right now is the same one he recorded in 1969.
The App Store in iTunes fails to address these fundamental differences between their latest offering and what has been offered previously (media.) There is so much potential here: iTunes could be a great way for developers to collect feedback and find problems. Instead, we get gems like these:
The icon to this App scares me so much… That I’m too afraid to install the App. That bird looks angry like it wants to peck my eyes out for even concidering [sic] to install the application.
If you are gullible enough to watch FOX “News,” then you are gullible enough to download this app and work for them for FOX for free– you already are in a way, just by watching. This would be a great app for those of you that like to monitor “ethnic” types when the nation goes to “Code Orange,” or, God forbid, “Code Red!” Make sure you have this app when you’re digging your bomb shelter or spying on your neighbors’ subversive activities.
What makes this worse is that flagging reviews as inappropriate content seems to have no effect. I have flagged reviews of my own products, and those of other developers, and nothing has changed. If Apple wants developers and users alike to take this system seriously, they must address this problem immediately. Yes, it’s tedious and costly to do this review, but with continued neglect this system will end up being like YouTube for software.
If you have doubts that this will happen, take a look at the most helpful review for Band. Users are already learning how to game the system.
Some have suggested that buying the app should be a requirement before leaving a review. I agree, but this will not completely mitigate the need to vet content. A large percentage of applications are free: the trolls will just download before going on their merry way.
If all of this wasn’t depressing enough for developers, I’ll leave you with my biggest disappointment: reviews are a one way street. I’m not one to feed the trolls, but many of the reviews I’m seeing would benefit from a “Just try this…” or “We’re working on that…” type of response. There’s not even a link to our support on the reviews page.
I remain hopeful that someone at Apple will see what’s going on and have the power to fix it. My only advice would be to act quickly: the longer you wait, the harder it will be to clean things up.