Caveat reviewer: Shopping the App Store

App Store

App Store icon (Image via Wikipedia)

The latest report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that 24 percent of Americans have posted online product reviews — and that 58 percent of U.S. shoppers consult online reviews and buying guides before making a purchase, online or off.

Unfortunately, there are reviews, and there are reviews. I find that when it comes to iPhone apps, I’m steering friends to expert resources like CNET.com and the Macworld App Guide. That’s because many of the app reviews in the App Store are just…weird.

Too many app developers have their friends posting glowing reviews of lame apps, and too many trolls are trashing perfectly reasonable, if modest, applications. Certainly, you can find some informative reviews (particularly of the paid apps) but too often you’re paddling through a lot of flotsam and jetsam.

Some reviewers laud or pan the app using uninformative hyperbole: (“One of the best apps out there!” “Totally sucks!”).

More alarming are the reviews of functionality that state baldly “Doesn’t work.” “Totally broken.”

I confess, I pay attention if the reviews of functionality are negative and they go to the trouble of describing the problem clearly and specifically. That’s because I’ve downloaded a few attractive-looking apps that kinda-sorta worked but were so slow or had such unintuitive controls that they weren’t worth the bother to use.

Still, it’s caveat reviewer.

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About Karen Anderson

To paraphrase Mark Morris, "I'm a writer; I write!"
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