Don’t 1 Star An App Not Working in Android N

The news of the first beta of Android N being released yesterday has made the Android community a flurry of activity and with Google for the first time really making it easy for users to download it and install it on their Nexus devices, it means that a lot of people have installed it.  And by a lot I mean a lot.  My Google+ and Twitter feeds are full of people posting photos of their devices in various stages of being updated or N running on them.  Along with that has come a pile of posts of people not happy because their favorite app is not working.  I warned readers this would happen.  What was released yesterday was in every word beta and you could even make the argument that it is alpha code.

But whatever you do, don’t go to the Google Play Store and give a 1 star rating and bad review for an app not working in Android N.  That doesn’t help anyone, particularly the developers.

I have made posts like this one in the past, be it with Android Marshmallow or back in the day when I focused on iOS.  But it always seems to happen and it is unfortunate.  It is unfortunate because developers big and small, just like you, got Android N yesterday.  Sure there may be a few that got it earlier thanks to agreements with Google but they are under NDA and the last thing they can do, even if they wanted to, is support their app on beta code. They,

Android N
Android N

just like you, are furiously behind the scenes digging into N and figuring out what has changed, what is the same, and how all of this impacts their application.  The last thing on their mind is supporting their app on it because they know that things are going to change between now and when the final version of N is released later this summer.

The problem comes in when folks who are running the beta code (and we can argue if they should or shouldn’t but that is an entirely different topic of conversation), fire up their favorite app and it crashes.  Repeatedly.  Like, it won’t work at all.  Sometimes out of frustration they will hit the Play Store and give a 1 star rating to an app for not working in the beta OS.  Doing that does a couple of different things from a developers point-of-view.

First, they get notified that a poor rating has come in and they have to investigate it.  That means that someone on the support team has to read it and dismiss it.  But in the mean time, the support teams have taken time away from customers with real issues with the app to read this bogus rating and review.  So really, all it is doing is distracting the support teams from their jobs.

Second, and this is equally as important, it disparages the app for no good reason.  Many people – indeed most people – when they are searching for an app, will look at the ratings of that app.  They only look at the bar graph of ratings and may read a review or two but that’s it.   So when they see an app that has a whole bunch of 1 star ratings, they move on to the next app that is similar (and there is always a similar app).  It means that the developer could potentially be losing out on revenue from that app, be it ad-supported or a pay app.  That, in turn, means that they can’t get updates, new features and other improvements to their apps because they don’t have the funds because people aren’t using the app in the first place because of the 1 star ratings.  It becomes a vicious cycle.  Sure, the Electronic Arts or Microsoft’s of the world can more afford the loss of revenue than an independent developer but the net result is the same on both of these points.

What I’m not suggesting is you never give a 1 star rating.  If the app is bad, crashes constantly and you’ve tried to get in contact with the developer and have been met with the sound of crickets, 1 star that bad boy.  But not because it isn’t working on a beta release of Android.  It’s not fair to the developer, to your fellow Android users, and really to yourself.  You are potentially denying yourself the app you so love ever getting updated to support N because if the developer gets flooded with 1 star ratings, they may simply throw their hands in the air and give up.

It has happened before.  It will happen again.

So my fellow Android users, be kind.  If you have decided to install Android N, expect things to not work well or in some cases, at all.  But don’t take your decision out on developers, not right now.  They, like you, are going through this same troubleshooting process and need time.  That is something that is worth its weight in gold right now.