Android app and game developers, and the billions of Google Play Store customers around the world, will soon see changes made to the way apps on the platform are scored.
Speaking at the Google IO 2019 developer conference this week, the Google Play team revealed that the most recent, and theoretically more relevant, app reviews will be given greater weight when considering ratings. The change follows similar moves made by Apple two years ago, when it introduced a feature that optionally allows developers to reset an app or game's rating when a new update is released.
“Many of you told us that you want a rating that reflects a more current version of your app, not what it was years ago – and we agree,” Google Play product lead Kobi Glick wrote on the company’s developer blog. “So instead of a lifetime cumulative value, your Google Play Store rating will be recalculated to give more weight to your most recent ratings.”
Google is claiming this revised system will work better for developers but also for users, as anyone downloading an app or game from the Play Store will be able to see exactly how recent changes have impacted the user experience.
The changes to app ratings are set to work in concert with a new replies feature that developers will be able to use to respond to user reviews on the Play Store.
The new system will auto-generate three responses for app developers, which will be based on the content of the user comment – developers can choose to select any reply and send it as is, choose to customize it, or come up with a new response from scratch. The replies feature is currently available only in English, but Google says more languages will be added in the future.
Google is also improving how users update their apps. The new in-app updates API is now generally available, which will allow apps to be updated while they are being used.
The new ratings system changes will come into effect for users starting in August, however developers can already preview the recalculated ratings of their apps by logging into their accounts.
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Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.