Once upon a time, anyone who wanted to could post a review of any app available in Apple’s App Store. You could just drop in on the top paid apps list, prepare a number of scathing single-star reviews based on the outrageous prices of each app, and possibly make a significant dent in their overall rating (especially if you were looking at some of the international stores, where there aren’t nearly as many ratings as there are in the U.S.).
It was misleading, it was petty, and it was stupid. Luckily, Apple did away with most of that nonsense when they limited the ability to review to people who’ve actually purchased an app. What remained, however, were all the spurious reviews made prior to the ban, with no way for users to distinguish between the two, and still affecting the app’s cumulative score.
Well, as of this week, those reviews are no more. Apple has gone through and pruned all of the reviews made by non-customers, according to MacRumors. It’s obvious when you look at the number of reviews for an app like Super Monkey Ball before and after Wednesday, which have gone from 4,197 to only 3,710. As a result, the average rating on a number of apps have gone up.
The move is long overdue, and I’m glad Apple did it, although I wonder how they determined which reviews were legitimate and which were by people who hadn’t downloaded the app. I suppose they do have access to the purchasing history of everyone with an iTunes account, in which case it makes sense why it took this long, since that seems like a lot of work. Hopefully now the reviews represent a more accurate reflection of what customers are getting, but it’s still far from a perfect system, and could stand further improvements, like weighting reviews according to latest version numbers. Apple seems to be committed to making it work, though, so we’ll see what the future brings.