My simplified app evaluation system



In the past few days, there’s been some chatter about (iOS) apps prompting the user to rate them in an insisting, and thus annoying, fashion. I very much agree with John Gruber’s suggestion. It’s something I did in the past in some extremely annoying cases: apps that offer the Leave a Review — Remind Me Later — No Thanks alternative, you choose No Thanks, and a few days later the “Rate this app” prompt appears again.

But I wanted to take the opportunity to share the little simplified system I’ve been using for a while now to evaluate iOS apps in general.

I very rarely take the time to actually write a review. It’s not because I don’t want to, or that I’m lazy. I just don’t have time to do that. But if I like your app, I will certainly mention it on or Twitter (I will let my followers know and I will look for your app or developer account to let you know). If I’ve found it particularly useful or ingenious, I will take some time to write a brief review here.

What I often do, instead, is to leave a star rating on the App Store. But only using three of the five star options:

  • 5 stars: Great app!
  • 3 stars: Average app. Not lousy, but not stellar either.
  • 1 star: Terrible app.


If you think that’s unfair or not-nuanced-enough, I’m sorry, but looking back over five years of purchasing apps on the App Store, the sheer majority of apps I’ve encountered have invariably fallen in one of the three evaluation tiers mentioned above.

I think it’s a very honest evaluation system, and every star-rating I do is always pondered and usually happens after having used an app for a while. The only notable exception: if your app bugs me with frequent “Please rate this app” prompts, you’ll get one star no matter how great your app is.

The Author

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!