Google allows all Android developers to respond to Play user reviews

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Close to one year after introducing a Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play digital storefront update enabling select Android application developers to respond to both positive and negative consumer reviews of their work, Google is finally expanding the feature to all members of the Android developer ranks.

"You can reply to user reviews in the Google Play Developer Console, and your replies are shown publicly below the corresponding user review on Google Play," explains Google Play Product Manager Ellie Powers. "Users receive an email notification when you reply and can either reply to you directly by email, or update their review if they choose to do so--though keep in mind that users are not obligated to update their reviews. You can also update your reply at any time."

Powers notes that Android developers already using the feature have leveraged review interactions to identify and prioritize bugs, alert consumers to software improvements and fixes, refer users to documentation and other support channels and even source ideas for new features and enhancements. "Conversations are meant to be two-sided, and facilitating discussion between developers and users will ultimately yield better apps, to the benefit of everyone," Powers adds.

Google began allowing designated Android developers to reply to reviews in June 2012, initially limiting the feature to partners who've earned its Top Developer Badge--i.e., developers who've released Android apps of consistently high quality. Google began gradually rolling out the option to other developers earlier this year. The expansion followed weeks after Google moved to improve the quality of Play customer reviews, eliminating anonymous feedback by requiring all users to link Android app and game critiques to their Google+ social networking profile. All Google Play reviews are now publicly posted using the consumer's name and photo, with previous reviews credited to "A Google User."

Google Play (formerly Android Market) launched in October 2008 and now boasts roughly 800,000 Android apps in all.

For more:
- read this Android Developers Blog post

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