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Beta testers can no longer post app reviews in prerelease iOS versions

It appears that Apple is disallowing iOS 9 beta users to submit app reviews — positive or negative — with the latest build released on Tuesday, a feature that was becoming an increasingly irritating thorn in the side of developers since Apple opened its public beta program earlier this year.

Testers running Apple's fourth iOS 9 beta, currently for developers only, are able to access the iOS App Store as usual, but no longer have the ability to post reviews. Attempting to do so now results in an error pop-up that reads, "This feature isn't available. You can't write reviews while using a prerelease version of iOS."

AppleInsider reader Lars was first to spot the change.

Apple likely deprecated the feature to prohibit users unfamiliar with beta software builds from posting unduly critical assessments of apps that, for whatever reason, are incompatible with the upcoming system update.

While a good portion of iOS apps work as intended on iOS 9, there are a few that experience stalls, crashes and other hangups not present when running under iOS 8.4, the most up-to-date consumer release. The two systems may be mutually exclusive, but the underpinning services are not. Posting negative reviews based on an experience within a beta environment has a very real impact on developers, as they can be viewed by and sway the opinion of average App Store customers.

Indeed, a number of titles in the iOS App Store have seen their star ratings drop after Apple released its iOS 9 public beta. What's more, developers are unable to submit patches for problems discovered in iOS 9 , only updates for iOS 8. This means most issues end users run into will remain unfixed until the next-generation operating system debuts this fall.

The problem has existed for some time, but with previous beta programs the impact was slight because access was limited to a rather small pool of users. And those users were, for the most part, developers. Issues became increasingly pronounced after Apple opened wide access to early iOS and OS X builds through its "public beta" program, entry into which is as easy as signing up.

Relatively more stable than developer-only builds, OS betas labeled "public" are still just that, unfinished software that hasn't been fully vetted by Apple or the thousands of app developers coding for it.

It is unknown if Apple intends to extend today's moratorium on app reviews to prerelease versions of other operating systems like OS X 10.11 El Capitan.