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Why I Don’t Use App Review Services

Getting users to review your apps is hard. We all know how important it is to score some early reviews to boost your ranking and make it look like at least someone is using your app. So what are your options?

Ask Your Friends

This is probably the most obvious one. Beg your friends and family to download your app. Take them out to dinner. Buy them coffee. Buy them a beer. If you have five friends in the world, you can make this happen.

Annoy Users With Rating Requests

As you can tell by the headline, I’m not a fan of this one. I have used this approach off and on over the years and it always makes me feel icky. I don’t like disrupting the user experience. If you are going to do this, try something more interesting. Check out what Brian Mueller has done with the Carrot Weather rating request. It doesn’t get in the way but gives those inclined to leave a review an easy option.


Carrot Weather

Buy Reviews

Yuck. Don’t do this.

Review Exchange Sites

What these sites do is allow you to earn reviews from other developers by reviewing their apps.

I have personal experience with one of these sites. I gave honest reviews of apps and received reviews in return. Some of the reviews were good, such as a 4 star with details that showed the other dev actually tried the app. Others were not so good, such as a 5 star “Great game!!!” review of my app that wasn’t a game. The hardest part for me was the sheer number of terrible re-skins I had to deal with. It seemed like about 90% of the apps I was asked to review were in this category. I was getting plenty of reviews and I thought it was a great service to at least kick start my reviews after launch or an update.

One day last June, after using the service for a month or so, all my reviews disappeared and most of the reviews I had received through the service were gone. I talked to Apple about it and they had cleaned house and deleted what they felt were fake reviews, blacklisting Apple IDs along the way. Talk about scary. I was lucky they didn’t suspend my developer account. To this day I am still unable to review other apps through my dev account login.

I do not personally think these services are against the rules or shouldn’t be allowed. Apple thinks differently. As far as Apple goes, paid reviews are against the guidelines and they categorize developers reviewing other developers for each others benefit as paid reviews.

I would discourage anyone from using these services. All it takes is for Apple to clean house and you could be blacklisted or worse.

I believe the best way to get reviews is to make a good app that users like enough to feel compelled to review. I did that with my app, Quit That. Read about it’s success here.

Chris Beshore

I'm an indie iOS developer based in Kansas City, MO.

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