How to write an app update description?

App updates are great for both app users and apps – updates mean that developers are always working on improving the app, keeping in mind better customer experience with each update.

Minor updates usually introduce some minor bug fixes that bring a better experience for app users. To describe these changes, developers usually add notes like “-minor bug fixes” or “-various bug fixes”. However, from time to time, some app updates emerge with silly/funny descriptions of the new version.

The most recent example with unusual description is the Tumblr app. Their latest version, 4.3.1., includes a short story about a discussion within Tumblr’s Board Room.

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Latest Tumblr app update.
Latest Tumblr app update.

So what seems to be the issue with these types of updates?

While we love to see creative solutions being applied to tiresome problems (i.e. App update descriptions), they bring little value to end users. They usually don’t care enough about reading these updates to make it worth your while. On the other hand, it might prove to be great PR. But here lies another issue.

As you can see from screenshots above, this particular app update description doesn’t contain a single word of actual app improvements or bug fixes in this version. Regardless the fact few minor bug fixes were included in the new app version, we’ll never know for sure, fixes were never mentioned anywhere. Tumblr is not alone in this; we saw theses types of updates before from Medium and GrubHub Food Delivery.

Medium app update is displaying Slack communication.  
Medium app update is displaying Slack communication.

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You can try and guess what’s new, good luck with that.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s awesome to see some creative work in app update descriptions, but don’t exaggerate. There are some good examples where humor and description of new app version made us smile and went viral for a days or weeks.One instance even had a timeline.

It all started with Wallapop 1.8.1  app version on 8th of April. They’ve stated that one of their engineers, Peter, is missing. After two days, on April 11th, new app version update was available for download with details explaining what improvements were added, and what happened to Peter (sorry mate).

Peter is missing, but just after two days, we've found out what happened to Peter.

Peter is missing, but just after two days, we’ve found out what happened to Peter.

It gets even better – other apps joined the “Peter party”, even though we don’t know for sure if Peter was a fictional character or a real person. It seems like, after Wallapop, Peter joined Medium for what only seemed like a short adventure, just like the one with QuizUp.

Wherever Peter goes, bugs apparently follow.

Wherever Peter goes, bugs apparently follow.

Oh, Peter...

Oh, Peter…

So, what have we learned from all this? App update descriptions can be used to have some fun and get creative. It’s important not to leave your users in the dark, regardless if most of them don’t read your app description. Always be transparent and clearly state all fixes and updates, while considering all other content as readers bonus.