Google is changing the Play Store’s app rating system

Ever wanted to download an application on the Google Play Store but when going through the rating and review section, you are only met with complaints that will never affect you in the country you reside in or the device you will be installing the application on? If so, Google might have had you in mind by planning to tweak how reviews and ratings will be displayed on the Play Store.

Google announced that the aim of the new Android app rating system is to make the ratings on the Play Store more personalized based on the country and the form factor of the device. For instance, a user in the United States should not see an app that has only 2 stars because many Kenyans were disappointed with the application for not integrating M-Pesa as a payment method and therefore giving the app a poor rating.

The replacement of the universal app rating system that currently exists will also help users and developers as well get more insightful information about a particular app.

Segmentation of reviews based on region and form factor

In addition to categorizing reviews according to the country or region you are located in, Google also aims to further segment the reviews to be shown in accordance with the device you will be accessing the Play Store with.

Chromebooks, tablets, foldable smartphones, tablets and the like will all have reviews from users using the said devices. A user with a foldable smartphone will not be able to see issues affecting those with Chromebooks land vice-versa.

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These reports gathered from different devices will prove invaluable to developers, as they will quickly identify on which devices their apps are performing poorly or have bugs and optimize them accordingly to provide users with the best user experience possible.

The changes will come gradually to give developers time to adapt to the new form of users leaving reviews on their applications. The first change will be in November 2021 where users on mobile phones will start to see ratings specific to their registered country.

Then early in 2022 users on other form factors such as tablets, Chromebooks and wearables will start to see ratings specific to the device that they are on.

Potential drawbacks on the segmentation of reviews

While Google is certainly doing this to improve the user experience and quality of apps in the Play Store, should reviews from different countries and devices be locked away without a way of accessing them, users from small countries with niche products stand to lose big time.

Not many Kenyans use Chromebooks, for instance, let alone leaving ratings and reviews on the Play Store. If one of the few Chromebook users in Kenya wants to read a review before downloading an app, he or she will most likely be met by one or two reviews in the best-case scenario.

When all is said and done, this is a change in a positive direction, and giving users the ability to access reviews from other regions or devices will solve all of my qualms with it.

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