Apple’s upcoming iOS 10.3 release (exact date has not been confirmed yet) should be on every mobile product manager’s radar, as the updates largely impact the functionality surrounding review requests in the App store. We already know that positive reviews are an essential component to an app’s success and ultimately drive product discovery and download. There is strong reason to believe that the updates Apple is planning to roll out will ultimately provide better user experience and, in turn, will drive higher quality and transparency around app reviews and their visibility.

We are going to delve into some of these updates, summarize what you need to know, as well as provide some strategies that will help you get ready for the upcoming iOS 10.3 release date.

iOS 10.3 introduces a new way to ask customers to provide App store ratings and reviews for your app. Using the SKStoreReviewController API, you can ask users to rate or review your app while they’re using it, without sending them to the App store. You determine the points in the user experience at which it makes sense call the API and the system takes care of the rest.

Here are the top four things you need to know about the update:

  1. Developers will now be able to respond directly to customer reviews.
  2. Users can now rate an app from within the app. This is good news.
  3. Apple is now getting stricter on how many times you can prompt a user to review your app. The new volume is set to three requests per year (current level is unlimited).
  4. Users will have the option to update their iPhone to shut off all review request prompts that come in, period.

So — what does all this mean for you, and how will it affect the day to day for the project managers and developers involved on apps that sit in Apple’s Marketplace?

The ability for developers to respond to negative reviews directly is a very good thing. This feature has been available to the Android community for nearly 5 years, so this is a welcome update that is long overdue. I would recommend that the product manager and developers sit down together and craft well written, concise, and gracious responses to current negative complaints that sit in the app store. I would also recommend that as a next step, they engage in a brainstorm session to identify potential future complaints — and craft canned responses ahead of time that can easily be tweaked depending on what actual comments come through.

Allowing users to rate the app without having to exit the platform should significantly increase the number of overall ratings in the Apple App Store. However, one thing to be careful about is cutting down on the number of review requests that developers can show to customers. This will probably result in better quality reviews and more self prompted responses.

To combat any loss of reviews as a result of this new update, put together a strategy that will encourage your best customers to leave thoughtful/helpful reviews which can be a powerful motivator for download conversion. Do a bit of research and find out at what point in the flow of your app the user is most likely to be satisfied or delighted by the experience, and that’s probably the best place to put a prompt (expect a more in depth post about this soon).

The updates that were mentioned in the developer version of iOS 10.3 will ultimately make the App Store user experience a more positive one. This is good news for product managers as the updates will likely contribute to an increase in overall levels of customer satisfaction and encourage higher levels of engagement. Make sure to prep your developers with thoughtful responses to existing customer complaints, as well as anticipated ones. We are excited to see some great changes to Apple’s platform, and hopefully a huge increase in the number of feedback points for app developers (Android dominates when it comes to review velocity at the moment). Also, we are working on a way to get the quick reply links with each ReviewBot posting so that you can get back to your customers easily and efficiently.