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App Store developers can now respond to user reviews

Curiously absent feature will allow devs to acknowledge user issues and discuss solutions

With the release of iOS 10.3 and macOS 10.12.4, Apple has given developers the ability to directly respond to user reviews - a feature that has been available on Google Play since May 2013.

This is a small change with significant potential benefits for both developers and their users. Apple said that responses can be added to any review written at any time, and edited as often as the developer deems necessary, but only one response will be visible on the store page.

In a blog post describing the new feature, Apple emphasised the role these direct responses can play in building a sense of community around a game. The company advised developers to "communicate in the tone of your brand" regardless of how many individual people are writing responses, and use the opportunity to discuss any relevant future updates.

The most obvious and important use of the new system, though, will be in letting users know that their complaints are being heard and addressed. App Store user reviews can often read like bug reports, but the star rating a user leaves will often stay the same even after the problem has been fixed.

"Once a user indicates that your response answered their question or fixed their technical issue, consider asking them to update their rating and review," Apple said, also suggesting that developers ask for a rating to be fixed is the user appears satisfied with the outcome.

Developers will be able to filter reviews through ITunes Connect in a number of helpful ways: by star rating, by territory, reviews without responses, and reviews with recent updates.

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