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Apple needs to ban app release notes that only mention bug fixes and 'improvements'

App Store
App Store (Image credit: iMore)

I love apps. I think I've made that pretty clear over the years both on iMore and elsewhere. I love apps of all shapes and sizes, but there's one thing I can't stand. It's something that I'm far from the first person to complain about, too. And it's something Apple needs to get tough on.

Bug fixes and performance improvements.

Call me old-fashioned, but I remember when an app's release notes included useful information about what the update had to offer. Those notes told us of new features and, if there were bugs that were squashed, it told us what they were as well. I enjoy reading release notes because it means there's something new to look forward to. Something new about an app that I already use.

Unfortunately, some developers seem to think that release notes are nothing more than another box to tick when working their way through App Store Connect.

Bug fixes and performance improvements.

Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy a bug fix and an improvement as much as the next appaholic. But they don't mean anything unless release note readers know what they are.

Instead, we get a vague acknowledgment that something changed. Someone, somewhere, did something. Cool. But tell us why we should care and, more importantly, why we should download the update at all.

Bug fixes and performance improvements.

It isn't all about users, either. I'd argue that developers benefit from a good release note, too. When I'm downloading a new app or game the first thing I do is look to see how often and how recently it was updated. If all I see is the familiar bug fixes and improvements, it doesn't make me think fondly about the app or the people behind it. It makes me think they couldn't be bothered to write something meaningful. So what other corners are they cutting?

Bug fixes and performance improvements.

It isn't a lack of resources thing, either. Google, one of the worst offenders, isn't short of a developer or two. And yet.

Gmail Release Notes Screenshot

Gmail Release Notes Screenshot (Image credit: iMore)

Come on now. Give us a clue, Google! It's time Apple started to ban apps that have updates like this.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

3 Comments
  • AGREED. To me it communicates arrogance and disregard for the user. It also makes me wonder what they’re hiding.
  • The issue is that some of the improvements/bug fixes really aren't notable to the end user. They may be simple code optimizations or fixes to bugs that were so rare that the vast majority of users may not care/notice. I don't think that we ALWAYS need detailed bug fix descriptions, but when the bug fixes are significant, they absolutely should be mentioned.
  • Even this is miles better than "Thanks for using our app! We update every 2 weeks to make sure your experience is blah blah blah blah".