Apple has released the iOS 10.3 beta 1 to developers, an update allowing them to directly respond to customer reviews on the App Store for the first time.
This feature, which has been available to Android devs since 2012, has been long called for among the iOS and macOS developer community, which has been unable to respond to negative user criticism, some of which is often unwarranted.
Once iOS 10.3 rolls out the public, Apple developers will be able to "respond to customer reviews on the App Store in a way that is available for all customers to see". This suggests that the App Store will receive support for threaded conversations in reviews as well as developer profiles.
iOS 10.3 will also give developers access to a new API for asking users to rate or review an app while they're using it without sending them to the App Store, putting an end to frustrating nag screens, with some apps some pestering users to rate it upon nearly every open.
According to a report at The Loop, developers will only be able to nag users for reviews three times per year, and once the consumer leaves a review, they can't be prompted again. Users will also have a master switch that will turn off the notifications for app reviews from all developers, according to the report.
iOS 10.3, which is shaping up to be a hefty update, also brings with it support for AirPods in Apple's Find My iPhone app. This means that you can search for the AirPods from the app, as long as they are within Bluetooth range of any of your iOS devices. The AirPods will start emitting a loud sound, presumably from down the back of your sofa.
iOS 10.3 also includes the next-generation APFS file system with native encryption, replacing the age-old HFS+ file system, a feature first introduced with macOS Sierra.
Other new features include a Podcasts widget, 3D Touch support on the Weather icon, a redesigned Settings menu, HomeKit improvements and even cricket scores in Siri. There's no sign of the rumoured Theatre Mode, though.
Apple hasn't announced when iOS 10.3 will be made available to all, although it likely will remain in beta for one to two months.
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