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23 August 2021

Making Ratings and Reviews better for users and developers

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Posted by Tom Grinsted, Scott Lin, and Tat Yang Koh, Product Managers at Google Play

Illustration of person holding phone looking at 4 star rating

Ratings and reviews are important. They provide valuable quantitative and qualitative feedback on your users’ reported experience of your app or game, and the broader service that you offer. That’s why they’re one of the signals people use when deciding what to download on Google Play.

We’ve heard from both Play Store users and developers that ratings and reviews could be more helpful. This is especially true when ratings from one area unfairly impact another — like when a bug that only impacted a single country negatively affects the app’s rating everywhere; or when positive improvements in a tablet experience are overlooked because of the number of users on phones. So we’re starting a multi-quarter program of improvements to make ratings more personalized and indicative of the experience each individual user can expect, and to make them easier to navigate and use for developers:

  • From November 2021, users on phones will start to see ratings specific to their registered country
  • 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’re on

We understand that many developers closely monitor the ratings that their potential users see, so we’re making sure you have plenty of notice about these upcoming changes. We’ve also made enhancements to Play Console to help you understand your ratings and reviews - especially across form-factors.

Changes to Google Play Console

Device type insights

Expanding your support for different device types is one of the most important and impactful changes you can make to your user interfaces. Adding tablet-optimized layouts or better mouse and keyboard support for Chrome OS can result in a step-change in the quality of your users’ experience, which in turn influences their ratings and reviews.

New Device type ratings insights are available in Play Console 
ratings overview and breakdown pages

New Device type ratings insights are available in Play Console ratings overview and breakdown pages

To make it easier to spot opportunities across various device types and track the impact of enhanced experiences, we’ve added new Device Type dimensions to the ratings page. We’ve also added a Device Type filter to your reviews so you can easily see how your tablet users are rating you, or what your users on Chrome OS say in their reviews.

More flexible date and period selections

Many of you have told us that you want to access more granular data than our selectors allowed. So, we’ve broken down your segmentation options and made them easier to use. You can now independently select the time period you want to plot (from the last 28 days through to your app’s complete lifetime), and how you want your ratings data to be aggregated (daily, weekly, or every 28 days). This allows you to access more granular data over longer periods of time.

Select any time range and aggregation period independently 
to find the ratings data you want

Select any time range and aggregation period independently to find the ratings data you want

Download data easily

We’ve also enabled CSV downloads of your average data and rating distributions. Combined with the new data selection options, you can easily query and download much more of your data and perform offline analysis. For example, you could download your entire history of daily ratings distributions and correlate it in a spreadsheet with customer service contacts.

Access and download all your data including ratings breakdowns 
directly from the overview page

Access and download all your data including ratings breakdowns directly from the overview page

All of these changes are live in Play Console now. Visit Ratings analysis and Reviews to try them out.*

Upcoming changes to ratings in Google Play

Ratings help people decide which apps to download and they are taken into consideration for featuring and placement on Play Store. But because the app experience can vary depending on the user’s region and device type, aggregate ratings don’t always tell the whole story. That’s why, starting in November 2021, we’re going to change the ratings that individual users see based on where they’re registered, and later in the year what device they’re using.

From November, this means that users on phones will see specific ratings for the country or region they’re based in. So a user in Japan will see app ratings generated from those submitted by other Japanese users.

Early next year we’ll further update ratings to reflect the device type users are browsing Play on, whether it’s: tablets and foldables, Chrome OS, Wear, or Auto. This will give users a better impression of the experience that they can expect for the device they’re using. We recommend you take a look at your form-factor ratings today - especially for tablets where growth is very strong - to see if you should invest in optimising your users’ experiences.

We understand that as a developer you will want to make sure you understand and get ahead of any major shifts in your user-visible ratings. So at least 10 weeks before any change in Play Store, we’ll automatically analyze the change your app can expect to see and reach out to any developer that will see a change of more that 0.2 stars on any device type in a key market (one with >5% of your store listing visitors). This will give you time to plan if you want to make key changes to your app.

These changes in Google Play will start to roll out from November with country or region-specific ratings. Look out for messages about your ratings in your Play Console Inbox towards the end of this year, and don’t forget that you can get ahead by checking your ratings by country and device-type today.

*Please note you need a Play Console account to access these links.

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