Changelogs in the App Store

by Rob Poulter

There has been a bit of a trend (if you can call it that - it's mostly by one company: Facebook) of late when release app updates in the [Apple] App Store, but presumably it happens elsewhere too.

The convention is that when you release a new version of some software, you tell your users what is new about it. If it's a feature update then they can decide whether or not they want to upgrade (especially if it's a paid update) and if it's a bugfix update then they at least know what has been fixed, and in an ideal world only submit bug reports for unfixed bugs (but who are we kidding, these days "bug reports" are just analagous to one star reviews).

Anyhow, time passes and there is a kerfufle[1] about developers now simply releasing changelogs containing the words "bug fixes". I can understand the desire to do this, since most users of non-technical software probably don't care what bugs have been fixed, and might only care if they are getting a bug fix or feature release.

Enter Facebook (with Facebook, Messenger and Groups) and Google (with Youtube) and Pinterest. Not only are these apps not listing bugs that are being fixed, but they are also not even making a distinction between new features and bugfixes.

Granted, the Facebook groups update message at least makes it sound like a bugfix and performance release, but the others (especially Messenger) make it sound like your software is a car, where a regular schedule of maintenance and repair is essential for it to continue to work correctly.

This behaviour makes it feel more like a marketing ploy to ensure there is continued mindshare amongst customers than any real benefit to the way in which the software runs. Whilst I am sure that there is work going on behind the scenes to fix bugs and refactor code to improve performance, I would love to know how this fits into a schedule of every two or three weeks.

[1] - I remember seeing people complaining about this years ago, but damned if I can find references.