I love iPhone apps that actually put effort into explaining their software updates -- here are the best and worst offenders

Apple iPhone SchoolThis is what it looked like when you had to manually update apps prior to iOS 7.

Before iOS 7 launched in 2013, iPhone and iPad users would have to manually download any and all software updates for apps once they became available.

An aggressive red badge on the App Store icon would show you the number of apps that needed updating.

There was no automatic downloading for software updates. It was pretty annoying.

These days, since iOS app updates download automatically, there’s rarely a reason to visit the “Updates” tab in the App Store – and most app developers seem to be aware of this.

For many apps, an update will simply include a boilerplate explanation for any software update along the lines of “we update the app regularly to make it faster and more reliable.”

Usually, developers don’t bother detailing new features, or which bugs were fixed, since so few people ever look there.

Still, many app makers still make an extra effort to explain all their software updates – and it’s worth noting those that do this, if only to highlight developers that are transparent with their users.

Take a look:


Great example: Medium doesn’t settle for a simple description, instead turning the update into a song (to the tune of “Dayman,” from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”).

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Snapchat also does a good job at being transparent. Bullet points are better than nothing!

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Amazon Kindle similarly keeps its users in the know.

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These explanations don’t need to be long at all, as IMDB shows.

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It’s less helpful when you don’t get clear details of exactly <em>which</em> bugs were fixed.

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And then, of course, there are several apps that simply don’t tell users what’s new at all, like Spotify here.

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Pinterest at least says how often it updates the app — but more details would be nice.

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Facebook and its various apps notably don’t give any information about what’s new in any of their software updates.

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Compare that to Postmates, which goes above and beyond to tell you everything new in every app update.

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I even appreciate how some app update descriptions get super technical and specific, like this one from Christian Selig, the developer of the excellent Apollo for Reddit client.

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I tip my hat to 1Password, which offered the longest app update description I’d found. It’s this level of detail that makes it easy for me to trust this app.

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Still, there are plenty of apps that don’t offer as many details as they probably should — like Uber here, for example:

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Hopefully in time, more app developers recognise the importance of being transparent about app updates. As a user, it feels good to know that someone is paying attention to the issues, and working on them.

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