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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2015
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    adrayvenadrayven Posts: 460member
    Good, about time..

    This was needed many, many iOS versions ago! People have no place posting reviews for issues/crashes while running a beta!
  • Reply 2 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Adrayven View Post



    Good, about time..



    This was needed many, many iOS versions ago! People have no place posting reviews for issues/crashes while running a beta!



    People are stupid indeed.

     

    I've only had one app not work with 9 (admittedly I haven't tried all of them), CARROT Weather. This makes me sad, of course, but I don't blame the developer for it, I move on.

    (funnily enough the widget still works)

  • Reply 3 of 42
    prolineproline Posts: 193member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Adrayven View Post



    Good, about time..



    This was needed many, many iOS versions ago! People have no place posting reviews for issues/crashes while running a beta!

     

    Actually reviewing from betas is fine. If it is impossible to support betas, everyone will get the same number of negative reviews and it comes out even. The issue is it isn't impossible. The complaints are coming from crappy developers whose apps are especially poorly written and not future proof (ie. that use APIs that were already deprecated in iOS 8 and are now unusable in iOS 9) and thus actually worse than those from other developers. They deserve their reviews and will get them sooner or later. Fortunately, this should be easy to work around by reviewing from another device.

     

    Its always easy to tell in October who knows how to write code and who doesn't. Good developers who develop the way Apple clearly tells them to can easily support the latest features, such as iPad split screen. Those who rely on third party tools and couldn't write a line of Swift to save their lives are the ones who take all year to get those features in while they wait for others to do their work for them.

  • Reply 4 of 42
    foadfoad Posts: 697member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by proline View Post

     

     

    Actually reviewing from betas is fine. If it is impossible to support betas, everyone will get the same number of negative reviews and it comes out even. The issue is it isn't impossible. The complaints are coming from crappy developers whose apps are especially poorly written and not future proof (ie. that use APIs that were already deprecated in iOS 8 and are now unusable in iOS 9) and thus actually worse than those from other developers. They deserve their reviews and will get them sooner or later. Fortunately, this should be easy to work around by reviewing from another device.

     

    Its always easy to tell in October who knows how to write code and who doesn't. Good developers who develop the way Apple clearly tells them to can easily support the latest features, such as iPad split screen. Those who rely on third party tools and couldn't write a line of Swift to save their lives are the ones who take all year to get those features in while they wait for others to do their work for them.




    Not true. There are limitations to bugs that can be fixed in iOS 9 when you are developing against the iOS 8 SDK. The App Store doesn't allow builds against the 9.0 SDK during the beta period. Using your example, if an API has been deprecated in iOS 9, there are limits to what you can do fix them and furthermore, resources are limited as it is developing new versions for the fall release.

  • Reply 5 of 42



    I wish Apple would force developers to optimize for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus displays already. It's so lazy to still have your app pretend these larger models don't exist while you continue to submit updates almost a year after they've been released. 

  • Reply 6 of 42
    prolineproline Posts: 193member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by foad View Post

     



    Not true. There are limitations to bugs that can be fixed in iOS 9 when you are developing against the iOS 8 SDK. The App Store doesn't allow builds against the 9.0 SDK during the beta period. Using your example, if an API has been deprecated in iOS 9, there are limits to what you can do fix them and furthermore, resources are limited as it is developing new versions for the fall release.




    You're not a developer. If an an API has been deprecated in iOS 9 for the first time, it will work just fine. Apple fully supports deprecated APIs for 1-2 major releases before they are abandoned. Supporting iOS 9 is quick and easy; any well written iOS 8 app works flawlessly. The people who get intro trouble are part of three groups:

     

    1) Those who have chosen not to write a native app like users want and are beholden to third party tools to port over their Java / Flash / whatever and have to wait for those tools to be updated

     

    2) Those who are foolishly still trying to support iOS 5 or 6. These people's apps are filled with mountains of OS related conditional code so big they have no idea what's going on in their app anymore.

     

    3) Those that use code that was already deprecated in iOS 8 or before, or that wasn't following best practices in iOS 8. This includes people who still can't use AutoLayout, people who still don't know how to use ARC, people who can't write a line of Swift, people who've never implemented viewWillTransitionToSize, people who still throw UIAlertView's instead of UIAlertController, and so on. 

     

    The people whose apps aren't working are poor developers. Plain and simple.

  • Reply 7 of 42
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by proline View Post

     

    Actually reviewing from betas is fine. If it is impossible to support betas, everyone will get the same number of negative reviews and it comes out even. The issue is it isn't impossible. The complaints are coming from crappy developers whose apps are especially poorly written and not future proof (ie. that use APIs that were already deprecated in iOS 8 and are now unusable in iOS 9) and thus actually worse than those from other developers....


     

    First of all, this makes no sense whatsoever. Since not all apps make the same API calls or use identical functionality, nothing will "come out even" ever. Secondly, crashes in a beta can't always be blamed on the app developer, as the beta itself has bugs. As developer can be expected to test his software against an iOS release version, but no developer can test against the to be coming next beta or submit updates to the App Store that use the new SDK... None of that makes him crappy. There are some doubts about you understanding development or even the term beta. Doesn't go well with name calling.

  • Reply 8 of 42
    jonserjonser Posts: 2member

    First suggested by Andy Inatko on MacBreak Weekly :)

  • Reply 9 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by proline View Post

     



    You're not a developer. <...>

     

    The people whose apps aren't working are poor developers. Plain and simple.


     

    Well I *am* a developer, and have been an iOS developer since the app store was opened.

     

    Your argument is nonsense.  What if an app is not working because of a bug in iOS?  Then it's not even your development at all, it's the OS... why should ANYONE get dinged on a review for a bug they cannot fix and did not create?  "App caused phone to reboot, one star"

     

    Should ANYONE get dinged for an app not working perfectly with split-screen multi-tasking?  Even if you use size classes properly there can still be issues that come up in that configuration you cannot see with any other device to-date, which means auto-layout changes.  

     

    The fact you didn't think of those two issues alone, much less many others leads me to wonder if YOU are a developer.  If so you are certainly slapdash about the whole thing.

  • Reply 10 of 42
    The only app I had issues crashing everytime was the appleinsider app which crashed anytime it was opened and was fixed today when I installed the latest Developer beta.

    Just to show that app crashes in betas are not always the developers fault as the AI app has not been updated since 04/15/15 and now works fine
  • Reply 11 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jonser View Post

     

    First suggested by Andy Inatko on MacBreak Weekly :)




    I read that also, I was thinking at the time that instead of writing a review, whatever they typed should get sent to the developer directly... but blocking is the next best thing.

  • Reply 12 of 42
    rf9rf9 Posts: 70member
    I have been hoping they'd do this with betas for years. The most BS 1 star reviews are "crahses with beta." It's totally unfair to the developers.
    Next thing rhey should do is add a "report feedback to developer" so that bugs can be properly reported.
  • Reply 13 of 42
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member

    Hallelujah! Sadly, people can't be trusted to be sensible.

  • Reply 14 of 42
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Wait so you can still rate the app you just can't review it? Kind of useless change then no? You shouldn't be able to rate apps either.
  • Reply 15 of 42
    @Rogifan, you cannot rate, neither review NOR alter previously written reviews -- once you are running a beta iOS version.

    If you had been altering your app review to reflect the current changes in any beta development, from now on you have to wait for the release version of iOS to access this specific app review again.

    At least, if you were too quick changing all your developer devices to iOS betas -- not having a single device left which is running the current official iOS release ;-)
  • Reply 16 of 42
    roakeroake Posts: 642member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by proline View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Adrayven View Post



    Good, about time..



    This was needed many, many iOS versions ago! People have no place posting reviews for issues/crashes while running a beta!

     

    Actually reviewing from betas is fine. If it is impossible to support betas, everyone will get the same number of negative reviews and it comes out even. The issue is it isn't impossible. The complaints are coming from crappy developers whose apps are especially poorly written and not future proof (ie. that use APIs that were already deprecated in iOS 8 and are now unusable in iOS 9) and thus actually worse than those from other developers. They deserve their reviews and will get them sooner or later. Fortunately, this should be easy to work around by reviewing from another device.

     

    Its always easy to tell in October who knows how to write code and who doesn't. Good developers who develop the way Apple clearly tells them to can easily support the latest features, such as iPad split screen. Those who rely on third party tools and couldn't write a line of Swift to save their lives are the ones who take all year to get those features in while they wait for others to do their work for them.




    As far as I can tell, everything about proline's post is wrong.  Impressive!

  • Reply 17 of 42
    prolineproline Posts: 193member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

     

     

    First of all, this makes no sense whatsoever. Since not all apps make the same API calls or use identical functionality, nothing will "come out even" ever. Secondly, crashes in a beta can't always be blamed on the app developer, as the beta itself has bugs. As developer can be expected to test his software against an iOS release version, but no developer can test against the to be coming next beta or submit updates to the App Store that use the new SDK... None of that makes him crappy. There are some doubts about you understanding development or even the term beta. Doesn't go well with name calling.


     

    Lots of words, but telling that you can't actually come up with a singe API call that is good practice on iOS 8 that fails on iOS 9, not one.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kgelner01 View Post

     

     

    Well I *am* a developer, and have been an iOS developer since the app store was opened.

     

    Your argument is nonsense.  What if an app is not working because of a bug in iOS?  Then it's not even your development at all, it's the OS... why should ANYONE get dinged on a review for a bug they cannot fix and did not create?  "App caused phone to reboot, one star"

     

    Should ANYONE get dinged for an app not working perfectly with split-screen multi-tasking?  Even if you use size classes properly there can still be issues that come up in that configuration you cannot see with any other device to-date, which means auto-layout changes.  

     

    The fact you didn't think of those two issues alone, much less many others leads me to wonder if YOU are a developer.  If so you are certainly slapdash about the whole thing.


    Just more of the same talk. Claiming to be a qualified developer but unable to provide a single example. 

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rf9 View Post



    I have been hoping they'd do this with betas for years. The most BS 1 star reviews are "crahses with beta." It's totally unfair to the developers.

    Next thing rhey should do is add a "report feedback to developer" so that bugs can be properly reported.

    Unless you can provide a current example to the contrary, all iOS 9 crashes can be attributed to developer error.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Roake View Post

     



    As far as I can tell, everything about proline's post is wrong.  Impressive!


    LOL. Apparently its easy to criticize X4 today. But it isn't easy to prove anything with examples.

     

    Like I said, the joke's on those who are lousy developers. The reviews will continue as few testers update all their devices to iOS 9 and iOS users, unlike certain developers, care about app quality.

  • Reply 18 of 42
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,764member

    It has never occurred to you that a big part of the reason why Apple used to limit betas to developers is because developers understand — and users don't — that APIs in a beta OS are moving targets that Apple may or may not have finished/debugged/documented yet? 

     

    This has nothing to do with an app developer's skill or quality of code, and everything with the fact that Apple themselves are developers, too, and Their Shit Just Ain't Done Yet. 

     

    If it were, they wouldn't have to release it as beta software. That's kind of a hint.

  • Reply 19 of 42
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by proline View Post

     

    Unless you can provide a current example to the contrary, all iOS 9 crashes can be attributed to developer error.


     

    You've never come across any bugs in OS-level code that could cause an app to crash? You must be making some pretty basic apps.

     

    I once got hit by a terrible bug in CVPixelBufferRef. It would return a blank (but not null) buffer on certain models. Incredibly hard to code around.

  • Reply 20 of 42
    thrangthrang Posts: 766member
    @proline

    What does beta mean to you? What are Apple's warnings about using betas?

    Your post contains little logic, for as far as I can tell, you presume that no crash of an app can be caused by the beta nature of the foundation all apps run on, iOS, and that there couldn't be changes by Apple as part of the beta process that might break things. As you say, if you can document that you are 100% certain this could never happen, post away.

    Further, you don't document how a user would be able to ascertain the source of the crash - a crap app of a begin iOS...

    Switching to El Capitan, which I am running: I installed the latest beta this morning, and now Photos appears to have some runaway process - fans blowing like crazy, Activity Monitor showing 500-600% utilization, at least for the past hour...no error or status messages. Since Apple wrote both El Capitan and Photos, who are you going to blame?
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