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Apple's iOS 10.3 lets customers leave in-app ratings, developers can respond to reviews

With Monday's iOS 10.3 release, Apple introduced new App Store tools that streamline app ratings and offer new levels of customer outreach by allowing developers to publicly respond to reviews.

Apple in a post to its developer portal detailed the StoreKit API available on iOS 10.3, noting the new backend assets deliver a variety of improvements to both developers and their customers.

For example, developers can now implement the SKStoreReviewController API to let users rate and leave reviews without leaving an app. Previously, rating request pop-ups, if accepted, transported users to the App Store app.

The cumbersome process involved at least three steps: accepting the rating request, leaving a rating and navigating back to the originating app. Due to the somewhat convoluted procedure, users often ignored such solicitation, perhaps skewing results.

In addition to in-app ratings and reviews, developers can now schedule request prompts — up to three in a 365-day period. The ensuing prompt allows users can authenticate via Touch ID and write and submit a review.

Also included in the new StoreKit API are tools that grant developers the option of responding to app reviews. Initially announced in January, Apple said the ability to communicate with customers was a highly requested feature for developers.

With the the new API, developers can publicly respond to reviews on both the iOS and Mac App Stores. When a response is filed, a notification is sent out to the user who posted the original comment, who then has an opportunity to update their feedback.

According to Apple's explainer, there is no time limitation applied to the response mechanism, meaning developers can write back to any and all reviewers. Devs can also edit their feedback at any time and only one response per review is displayed on the app's App Store page, Apple says.