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Here’s Why I Hate Reading App Store Reviews

SimplyTweet review

I appreciate that there are a lot of good, well thought out and well written reviews for apps in the App Store.  But I find there are just way too many that are inaccurate, nasty, and borderline illiterate.  I find it sad and depressing reading a lot of the reviews, and honestly now I rarely ever bother.

The ‘review ‘ above is a perfect example of why I feel this way.  In case you can ‘t read the highlighted section, it reads:

Why pay more for a product that never ever updates itself except for bug fixes?!?  Lazy, lazy developers and they charge too much for a nothing product.

Strong stuff “ especially considering the app it is talking about, which is SimplyTweet. SimplyTweet is an app I recently described as the ‘hardest working app in show biz ‘ because it is so frequently updated, and nearly every update is a major, feature-packed one.

So, for my money, that portion of the review left by ‘AntiThings ‘ is 100% inaccurate.  It ‘s just an entirely unfair and unfounded comment.

And thanks to Apple ‘s App Store policies, the developer of SimplyTweet cannot respond to it in any meaningful way.  He can ‘t get in direct contact with the user (assuming AntiThings is a genuine user) and try to address issues.  So he ‘s just left with doing a blog post to express his frustration at this situation

This is a story about frustration, and about the feeling of being totally helpless. And did I say frustration, again?
It was 3 weeks, almost everyday, for 7 days a week, I have been working on SimplyTweet 2.5. Many new features and many bug fixes.
It was 3 weeks, almost everyday, for 7 days a week, I have been working on SimplyTweet 2.4. Many new features and many bug fixes.
It was 3 weeks, almost everyday, for 7 days a week, I have been working on SimplyTweet 2.3. Many new features and many bug fixes.
The list goes on for at least 2.2, 2.1, 2.0, 1.7, 1.6, 1.5, 1.4, 1.3, 1.2, 1.2, 1.1 (that’s 14 major updates with new features and bug fixes, excluding 1.0 and a minor fix in between). A changelog for v2.5 is at here.
Between the 13 major updates, I have had my share of App store rejections, some logical, some even more logical if you think like a 1 year old. I have heard people tell me SimplyTweet is fantastic. I have heard people tell me it sucks dick. Sales definitely has not been fantastic.
Now I take pride in what I do and believe me, when I say I put in a lot of effort into making SimplyTweet better. Just ask my keyboard how much abuse it has to endure from me. Even if no one else knows, it knows.
Looking back, the sales, the approval process, the fact that I had to wait for almost 3 months for paperwork with Apple in order to put up any app on the App store, nothing beats this: I have been noticing at least for the last 3 updates, that consistently, there is always this person AntiThings who cares enough to post and update his/her review on App store for SimplyTweet with every update.

Hwee-Boon Yar, the developer of SimplyTweet who authored that post, even offers the reviewer a chance to contact him directly because of the lack of other methods for establishing communication:

AntiThings, if you see this, feel free to drop me a note and I’ll be most happy to hear your side of the story, if you feel wronged, just like I had for the past few weeks, if not months.

If you wonder why I don’t just contact this person or respond to the review, it is because the App store doesn’t allow developers to respond to it, nor provide any way for us to follow up with the user.

Hardy Machia (of Catamount Software) mentioned this ability to respond to reviews and reviewers a few days back in our discussion on what single change we ‘d like to see made to App Store policy.  Examples like this one with SimplyTweet really underline the need for this.

I ‘ve been a non-fan of App Store reviews for quite a while, but I ‘ve never felt the desire to post about it before getting an email from Hwee-Boon Yar pointing me to his blog post and asking if I thought it was interesting.  I said I did, but that much more than that I thought it ‘s sad and depressing that there ‘s no way for devs to respond to these. 

The more ‘reviews ‘ like this one I see, the less I ever want to even glance at App Store reviews.  What about you all?  Am I getting it all wrong, are most reviews really worthwhile? 

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  • Tania

    I for one love to read reviews and I leave great reviews for great apps. On occasion I leave bad reviews when I feel ripped off or misled.

    I think most readers of reviews can sort out the idiots from the sensible reviewers. I thing antithings' idiocy is quite apparent. I wouldn't give him a second thought.

    My advice to creaters of great apps with few sales: go crazy giving it away for free until you establish good word of mouth, I reckon you're bound to get more great reviews.

    • All good points I think Tania.

  • Guest

    No fan of the reviews either, but did you guys think about, that this AntiThings might just be a troll or even a competitor that desperately tries to get SimplyTweet bad press?

    • Maybe so – but that doesn't make it any better, or make it any more acceptable.

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  • Totally agree. I have precious few reviews, but several of them complain about crashes, and the most recent bags the app completely. Like Hwee-Boon Yar, I take some pride in what I put out there, and I certainly test. I also respond within hours to any queries from people that want help so it’s frustrating to say the least that someone who hasn’t even bothered to ask for help decides that they have a right to complain in such a bitter way. I can understand when people pay $50 for something and it doesn’t live up to expectations to feel disappointed. I don’t understand why when you’ve spent less than a cup of coffee, something can annoy you enough to write a nasty review if you can’t even take the time to ask for help.

    I had hoped that Apple’s crash reporting mechanism would help me help those that have had trouble, but alas, there seem to be too many ways for that mechanism to fail. Despite 3 reviewers reporting that the app crashes, I have yet to receive 1 crash report.

    Frustration is a good word.