Google I/O 2019: App ratings system on the Play Store is getting an overhaul

The most recent and relevant app reviews will be given greater weight when considering app ratings.

The Google Play Store has featured an extensive catalogue of app reviews and ratings ever since it was launched under the Android Market name more than a decade ago.

These scores are currently treated equally regardless of how old they are. But soon, this entire system will change.

Speaking at I/O 2019, the Google Play team revealed that the most recent and relevant app reviews will be given greater weight when considering ratings.

Google I/O 2019: App ratings system on the Play Store is getting an overhaul

Google Play Store. Image: tech2

“Many of you told us that you want a rating that reflects a more current version of your app, not what it was years ago – and we agree,” Google Play product lead Kobi Glick wrote on the company’s developer blog. “So instead of a lifetime cumulative value, your Google Play Store rating will be recalculated to give more weight to your most recent ratings.”

Google hasn’t specified how the new total will be calculated, but the company says developers can preview their new rating starting immediately. Google also states in a blog post, that because users add an average of 0.7 stars to reviews when developers respond to negative ratings, Google will begin highlighting ones it believes deserve a response.

An app review on the Google Play Store.

An app review on the Google Play Store.

But why are they really changing this? Google says that although treating scores equally may seem like the fairest rating system on paper, it fails to take into account the fact that, in most cases, older reviews are no longer representative of an app’s current state.

But the new rating system isn't free of criticism either. Recent reviews of an app, for example, could be extremely negative due to bugs and dated features, while older ratings may be much more positive because, at the time, the app was one of the best offerings around. Hence, the rating won't really reflect the app's current performance.

The changes will begin reflecting on the Play Store starting this August.

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