Identifying the Impact of User Reviews on App Updates: An Exploratory Study on App Release Notes

by   Tianyang Liu, et al.

Release planning for mobile apps has recently become an area of active research. Prior research concentrated on app analysis based on app release notes in App Store, or tracking user reviews to support app evolution with issue trackers. However, as a platform for development teams to communicate with users, Apple Store has not been studied for detecting the relevance between release notes and user reviews. In this paper, we introduce RoseMatcher, an automatic approach to match relevant user reviews with app release notes, and identify matched pairs with high confidence. We collected 944 release notes and 1,046,862 user reviews from 5 mobile apps in the Apple App Store as research data, and evaluated the effectiveness and accuracy of RoseMatcher. Our evaluation shows that RoseMatcher can reach a hit ratio of 0.718 for identifying relevant matched pairs. We further conducted manual labelling and content analysis on 984 relevant matched pairs, and defined 8 roles user reviews play in app update according to the relationship between release notes and user reviews in the relevant matched pairs. The study results show that release notes tend to respond and solve feature requests, bug reports, and complaints raised in user reviews, while user reviews also tend to give positive, negative, and constructive feedback on app updates. Additionally, in the time dimension, the relevant reviews of release notes tend to be posed in a small period of time before and after the release of release notes. In the matched pairs, the time interval between the post time of release notes and user reviews reaches a maximum of three years and an average of one year. These findings indicate that the development teams do adopt user reviews when updating apps, and users show their interest in app release notes.


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