One of the daily routines of developers and publishers is checking the AppStore for the latest ratings and reviews for their products. There are dozens of tools and websites around to support collecting that information, one of which is CommentCastÂ for MAC OS X by Tyler Bindon. And it’s a bit different.
I found CommentCast in search of one tool that also takes ratings seriously. Most tools that I used before had a focus on reviews only. They collected them and notified me, made nice presentations of those new reviews coming up around the world…but they always ignored new ratings being awarded, i.e. reviews without a text, so to say. If you remembered the numbers from the past, you could do the math on your own, but most often you just missed it when new ratings where given somewhere around the world. With CommentCast, this won’t happen again!
You start with selecting the products you want to monitor. This is not just software (iOS & MAC AppStore), but can be any media item from iTunes, like also music, films etc. You can enter a search term, an app ID or AppStore URL and will get a nicely ranked and tagged result list to choose what you want. That result is then added to the list of monitored products, which can be further categorized into subfolders, if you want.
With one click you can now read all worldwide reviews and ratings for a selected or simply all monitored products. When all stores around the world were checked, you get a comprehensive overview about the results in the main window of CommentCast.
With some simple clicks you can now apply filters, e.g. just see values pertaining to the current versionÂ of an app only, filter for number of stars, just show those added after the last poll or simply search within all of the shown. A green badge next to an entry in the app list shows you the number of changes since the last retrieval right away.
The big value over other solutions is that CommentCast also considers simple ratings that don’t come with a review text (usually even the majority of feedback that you get). You get an excellent overview about how many stars you got since the last time you asked for it.
If you simply don’t get what one of your Japanese customers wrote, an integrated translation feature provides a rudimentary translation to a desired target language (Japanese to English translations are a fun entertainment on its own, BTW …)
On the top right of the main screen, a small worldmap indicates the distribution of reviews/ratings around the world. Clicking on it reveals a large view of the map, including an explanation of the color coding.
CommentCast allows you to export the filtered result list in a configurable HTML format, or simply as a CSV list for export into spreadsheets or other further processing. The HTML configuration is done directly in a template page with some dedicated tags for looping over the content and inserting individual result attributes.
The export has to be done manually, since CommentCast does not yet support Apple script automation. Furthermore, you can not do programmatic filtering or conditional processing within that template, so the usecase for the export is limited. The developer is however looking into extending the functionality in theses areas. I found that feature handy anyway to provide a nice overview of selected reviews to others.
At $5 to be paid through PayPal, CommentCast is a bargain to buy and a must-have for every app developer. The additional consideration of ratings in addition to reviews is an outstanding feature that separates CommentCast from all it’s online and offline competitors. By now I couldn’t live without it any longer and use it at least twice a day! It will get the perfect final touch once the developer adds automation support.
You can download it from the CommentCast homepage.