Google Assistant Will Soon Allow Users to Submit Reviews for 3rd-Party Voice Apps
Google Assistant has for some time permitted users to rate voice apps in the Discover section of the mobile app and on the web. That rating is a simple 1-5 star entry. To date, users have not been able to add any commentary on the reasoning behind their star rating. According to several developers, that may soon be changing. Google has been sending a message to developers to expect reviews to be enabled in the Assistant directory “in a few days.” Cory Wixom, the developer of BabyStats for Google Assistant, commented:
I’m excited to see what my customers have to say about my action! There hasn’t been a very good way for customers to give any feedback prior.
Nick Schwab, founder of Invoked Apps, also welcomed the announcement. He added:
This is a long-awaited feature request. I’ve been dying to know why a small handful of folks have left a 1 or 2-star review and am hopeful that Google will be open to removing negative reviews caused by platform issues.
The latter point is a big priority for many long-time voice app developers. There are many instances where apps received negative reviews in Amazon’s Alexa skill store that referred to the app not being available or quitting unexpectedly. The problem for developers is that those are platform failures and not anything the skill developer can address. If AWS East or a Lambda fails, Alexa skills are subject to receive negative reviews and Nick is one of many developers that have called for a better process to resolve these review issues because they reflect negatively on the skill, suppress discovery and user trial, but were caused by the platform. Google has an opportunity to address this with its new user review procedure.
A Dispute Resolution Process?
Everyone expected Google to eventually enable user comments for reviews so this move was expected. What has taken some people by surprise is the fact that there may be an opportunity for developers to report negative reviews under certain circumstances and for users to flag reviews as potentially biased or in appropriate. The communication from Google states:
“Both developers and users will be able to report suspect or inappropriate reviews that violate our policies.”
The policies are fairly broad and include prohibition of reviews that include political, advertising, illegal, sexually explicit, profane language or spam content. It also enables users or developers to point out conflict of interest of review posters. This doesn’t specifically offer a process to resolve disputes like that expressed by Mr. Schwab, but it does offer a channel to express those concerns. Google can generate additional support in the voice app developer community if it provides a vehicle for them to be heard on these topics.
Why Reviews Matter
It is important to note that reviews matter for app discovery and to induce trial from the user perspective. For developers, reviews matter because they can help drive app discovery and provide insights into how to improve the Google Assistant apps. Google provides information on how to leave a Google Assistant app review, but the feature does not yet appear to be available on iOS or the web. However, you should look for it soon and take a moment to review a Google Assistant app or two.