Google+ account needed for Play app reviews

Google has announced you’ll need to be a Google+ member to review Android applications in the Play store from now on. It’s designed to weed out bogus reviews, both positive and negative.

Until now reviewers had the option to simply post as “A Google User.” In the future you will not only need to provide a name, but will have to “confirm” it as genuine by being logged in to a Google+ account. If you’ve uploaded a photo to your account, that will also appear beside the review.

The idea is to limit the way app developers can flood their listing with biased positive reviews, either by getting staff members to anonymously praise the product, or simply creating bogus identities. Of course, there’s now a neat business opportunity for anyone who wants to create an army of fake Google+ identities and hire them out for reviewing.

Industry figures are split about how well the change will work in practice. Some have pointed out that genuine users with legitimate criticisms might fear being identified (particularly as the Google Play store allows some developers to reply to reviews) or simply not want their app-buying habits made public.

The strategy will also be something of a testbed for Google. It’s previously talked about the idea of forcing commenters on YouTube to post under a confirmed real name, but been hesitant to bring in the policy. This will allow not only small scale testing of the technology, but also people’s willingness to sign up to Google+ just to be able to leave comments.

In theory such a policy could be a tremendous boost for recruiting new members to Google+. In practice there’s a strong risk it will simply boost the proportion of people who sign up to the social network and then rarely if ever visit or post on it, further enhancing the perception (however fair or unfair) that it’s a virtual ghosttown.

5 Responses to Google+ account needed for Play app reviews

  1. As an app developer I welcome this.

    Many times I've gotten a bad review eloquently stating "This app is bad and you should feel bad." Yet, I never get a support request email or any symptoms of the problem. I'd prefer contacting the person with the problem to understand how to fix the problem. Reviews saying "Developer fixed my issue A+" are much more welcome.

  2. As a consumer, I dislike this.

    While I can fee for developers who get bad reviews along the lines of, "Your app is band and you should feel bad" I feel that such measures can become severely restricting. Privacy is a real concern, and I wouldn't personally like every app I download or purchase I make logged away attached to my name. Now, allowing developers the ability to contact reviewers, that I can get behind. So long as the privacy of those reviewers isn't tossed aside.

    • Hate to tell you this, but Google already provides the developer information on the purchaser. I have username, email address, city, state and zip code. Plus the exact time of when the purchase was made. So in most cases, at least with Android, a developer can surmise who made the review. This is only true of paid apps. Free apps I get no info other than number downloaded by country.

      Apple works differently. The only information a developer gets is number of apps sold per country each day.

      With Android, I can provide the purchaser a refund if they request directly. However Apple I cannot.

      Seriously, I got a review the other day: "Total rip-off, do not buy ". How does that help me the developer to make a better product?

  3. I guess I won't be posting any reviews because I do not want to be a Google+ user. For only one reason, because when I signed up to be a user, it suddenly started sending emails to everyone I had photos of and face tagged in my Picasa web with links to the photos. Despite me not wanting to share them with anyone.

  4. I will then stop posting reviews too, I already closed my G+ account because I found out that you have to use your real name or otherwise they will close it. So now the Play store and YouTube, a bit sad but I will just have to move to Tent, Apple and Vimeo.

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