Google has announced two changes that should make Play Store reviews more useful to users and less unfair to developers.
“We’ve heard from both Play Store users and developers that ratings and reviews could be more helpful,” a blog post aimed at developers begins, before explaining the specific actions the company plans.
The first issue hopes to address problems that globally available apps face in specific regions with problems. Take, for example, a dating app that doesn’t have a huge number of users in the UK but has an enormous Irish community. One-star UK reviews highlighting the lack of matches wouldn’t be wrong, but they could unfairly put off an Irish user who would get an entirely more positive experience.
From November, Google will address this by showing users ratings specific to their registered country. “So a user in Japan will see app ratings generated from those submitted by other Japanese users,” Google explains.
The second problem Google hopes to fix is similar, but related to device type. In early 2022, apps available on multiple formats will show Play Store ratings specific to the device they’re being viewed on, be it tablet, Chromebook, wearable or phone. That should prevent a smartphone app’s rating being pulled downwards by a serious tablet bug.
“We recommend you take a look at your form-factor ratings today – especially for tablets where growth is very strong – to see if you should invest in optimising your users’ experiences,” the blog says.
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This is a point that’s important for Google to stress, as the company has recently made a push to get developers supporting more than just phones with their apps. With the new Play Media Experience Program, developers with at least 100,000 monthly installs and a strong Play Store rating can see the cut of revenue owed to Google slashed if they support different platforms like Android TV, Wear OS or Google Cast.