Apple should to do something about useless App Store “change logs”

By , Jul 8, 2016

The App Store is the best way to download and use apps on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, and every so often, you get an update for one of your apps that is supposed to fix problems or add new features.

Of course, what are you supposed to make of app updates that don’t really give you any information about what you’re downloading?

A problem that keeps growing

Let me just be clear from the start that this is somewhat of a rant, and you’re free to agree or disagree with my opinion here, but I have a real beef with something that’s been going on lately in the App Store and as I’ve seen from comments on my Twitter, others seem to agree.

This has been going on for months and I always brushed it off like nothing. On the other hand, it seems as though it’s becoming more and more popular for larger app publishers in the App Store to release weekly or bi-weekly updates where they fail to actually communicate with the user what they’re changing in the app update.

As it becomes more and more of a common practice among larger app publishers, I begin to hate it more and more, because I know less and less about the updates I’m installing.

Case in point:

Useless App Store app change logs

And because this isn’t a post intended to only make Facebook look bad, here are some other examples of other services doing the same thing.

More Bad App Store Change Log Examples

Repeat offenders in this department are Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Pinterest, and several others, with the list continuing to grow. Rather than an informative change log that shows a list of changes, you’re left with some tongue in cheek statement about how “they’re listening” and “bringing you the weekly updates you want to make the app better.”

And, just to rub things in a little more, you get that fake smile “thank you” for downloading the update you may or may not want.

After launching the Dropbox app following this update, I immediately saw a redesigned upload button. I mean… would it have been that hard to note in the change log, “hey, we updated our look?” I think not…

Forcing unwanted changes down your throat

Of course… how many times do some of these changes actually do just that? Many times, these updates include app changes that you don’t really want, but the companies push it on you anyways.

One prime example is Facebook Messenger, which I think has been completely ruined in the latest update. In conversation list view, your list of conversations is now interrupted by “favorites,” “active now” and other unwanted content that you don’t’ really want to see, right smack in the middle of your messaging list experience.

Facebook only shows the 3 most recent conversations in the app, and to get to all the other conversations, you now have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the app.

If only Facebook had listed this in a change in the App Store’s Updates tab… I might have actually been able to avoid installing this update and left my app how I liked it.

It’s not just Facebook

I’m not only hating on Facebook, because quite frankly I love using it and I use it frequently for my profession, but I really dislike their practices. Facebook isn’t the only company that’s doing this, but they seemed to start the trend.

Now, several other companies have joined the bandwagon. I don’t know what apps to install and what apps not to install, because there aren’t any change logs included in the updates anymore.

I was once told by an app developer that this might happen when an update is so small that it isn’t worth mentioning what’s new, but in many of these cases, I think the changes are actually quite significant, such as the changes in Facebook Messenger. I find it disgusting that you have to visit the company’s blog to find out what’s new because they can’t list what’s new in the change log.

What a change log should look like

I really appreciate a good change log, and here’s what one should look like. It should inform the user of what’s being fixed, added, or removed, so that they aren’t forced to change an experience to one that they don’t find comfortable:

Good App Store app change log

With a change log like this, I can tell if the update is actually going to fix a problem I’m having, or if one of the changes is going to ruin part of the functionality I enjoy using.

Take note of the bulleted (or in this case, dashed) list of changes. Good stuff; why can’t everyone do that?

Slack is really good with their change logs, but a change log like this is also perfectly acceptable. Although it’s not as detailed, it still makes an attempt to communicate what’s new in the update:

App Store Change Log Good Example 2

One thing that this definitely goes to show is that individual app developers and smaller development teams care a lot more about their users than larger app publishers do.

A change in focus

I am one to keep things up to date, and more often than not, I’ll update apps whether I really want to or not. But some individuals and organizations actually rely on certain versions of software to go day to day without problems, and sometimes updates introduce instability and problems.

So when companies don’t want to give users the information they need to make an educated choice, it really grinds my gears. In fact, it makes me not want to really install these updates anymore.

Wrapping up

I think Apple really needs to do something about the current situation and force app developers to provide some kind of detailed, full-disclosure change log each time an app update is pushed via the App Store.

The only people who suffer from uneducated decisions like these are the users. It allows companies to push unwanted changes and features into the palm of people’s hands and prevent things from working how we want them to.

With a simple App Store policy update, this is something Apple could easily change. What are your thoughts? Should Apple do something about this? Share in the comments!

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  • 9to5Slavery

    Some of the updates I believe is to market their app use for ad income revenue

  • I completely agree

    • AMiNE


  • jmh2002

    +1, I agree on all points too. It’s very frustrating. PS: the problem exists on Android too. And another repeat offender is Skype. Perhaps we need some type of name and shame campaign?

    • racerhomie2

      no one cares about Play Store

  • +1

  • englishmike

    100% agree.

  • Alan

    I agree. Maybe there should be the option to revert an update if said update was vague like these examples. That might encourage larger publishers to include more detailed changelogs.

  • franco4785

    Absolutely, Apple should start making guidelines as to what should be in a change log. I mean, it’s called a CHANGE LOG for a reason…

    P.S, you might want to include Camera Plus in the list of apps that have awesome change logs.

    • Jaco

      That one percent bruh 😀

  • Finally! Someone’s freaking talking about it! I’ve messaged Apple dozens of times regarding this wreck of a policy. Why aren’t developers forced to actually tell people what’s different?! I despise it so much. I don’t think the Facebook changelog has changed in over a year.

    On a side note, I really do enjoy the ones that make them funny and entertaining, just not massive essays

  • Metz

    I’ve disabled automatic updates until app developers provide proper change logs… no doubt they are filling our phones with all sorts of tracking / data logging tools

    • Daryl Tang

      That’s silly!

  • Björn Burdack

    I fully agree

  • Linton Findlay

    Completely agree. Sometimes apps don’t even tell you about awesome am features, like FB messenger and whatsapp didn’t show in their changelog that you can now quick reply. It’s clearly a way of bolstering chart performance, as each update download means a new download to the charts, that’s how apps like FB and YouTube stay on top. Wouldn’t be surprised is some update did nothing at all


    I hate Facebook, YouTube and whatsapp changelogs
    I have always to check many websites to know what has changed

  • KevinMcD12

    Totally agree! Another issue im having with these companies and their 2 week update policy is I feel they might not even be changing anything every 2 weeks but are pushing a new version so the bad ratings on their apps are wiped from public view. The App store show the current rating for that version of the app, so push a new “update” with little to no changes and the rating is reset!

    • MobiDev

      Do yourself a favor and read up on continuous development/continuous integration .

      • Ryan Stack

        thank you ^

  • Sigit


  • Mads Teland

    I think Google and Microsoft Stores does also offer this same changelog for these apps. Apple is only that offer changelog with updates and you can also go to app page to watch changelog because for Microsoft and Google, you can only go to app page to watch this changelog.

  • Johnny T Dane

    I agree 100%

  • Oscar

    “Apple should to do”?

  • Nick

    I totally agree!!! I hated when I noticed that they started to do that in all the major apps! At least I could see what real changes have been made.

  • Ryan Stack

    With so many apps integrating A/B testing, you might not even see the change they’re pushing in the update. It would be pointless to advertise a feature you have no access to. While it’s sometimes frustrating to not see what’s changing, major apps will onboard you within the app rather than a changelog not many people will actually read when they’re automatically updated.

  • techfreak23

    YES. That has been bugging me for awhile now. Glad I’m not alone in this.

  • Stella Vantouz

    Thank you for making this point and making it well. If anything, you’ve been charitable both toward Apple and to the purveyors of key apps like Dropbox.

    I actually think Google is as bad as Apple for their egregious overuse of the “update”. More than once I have found mobile Chrome to be unusable after an update. The only consolation is that before you know it the app will be updated yet again.

    I’m tired of reading a change log that makes it sound like they performed a dangerous and selfless act of humanitarian rescue via their app when in reality they are pushing a fix after a major security flaw is exposed.

    Apple (and Google) have a dual role in this: the maintenance and update of their proprietary apps and the setting and enforcing of policies in their app stores.

    It’s incredible that major apps can change a dozen times at odd and frequent intervals without listing than “bug fixes and speed improvements” in the change log.

    • Jeffsters

      Google’ issue, and Dropbox on the desktop, for me,, is the lack of an auto-update function causing frustration and missed updates/fixes.

  • 电天堂

    Supercell always manages their change log for their games.

  • “One thing that this definitely goes to show is that individual app developers and smaller development teams care a lot more about their users than larger app publishers do.”

    I 100% agree with your overall point, it is truly annoying. However, I don’t think this statement is entirely true. While yes, smaller app developers indeed have to work much, much harder on their apps to get them recognized, apps like Facebook and Dropbox rely on their mobile apps as much if not MORE than smaller app developers. It’s one of their main sources of profit and if their app doesn’t work correctly I’m sure profits will take a dive, thus upsetting their investors. I wouldn’t make this blanket statement about all larger apps in the app store. E.G. Apps like MLB At Bat, Yelp, Pocket, and Spotify are all large companies and they always put changelog info. I’m sure Facebook et al care about there users as well (In a “please don’t stop using our app” kind of way at least).

    • techfreak23

      Spotify actually started doing it too right at the end there before Apple stopped approving their updates.

  • Bangali

    Nail on the head my friend..

  • Shinonuke

    First time I actually like from Anthony.

  • I thought I was the only one that hated this! Completely agreed!

  • Daryl Tang

    Updates are normally going to fix bugs, introduce new features or change how something might work in the app. I don’t see why it’s a bad thing unless for the 3rd reason and if you don’t like the changes. You can find another app

  • James

    I’m gunna play devil’s advocate here.

    While I agree with the article, you, and the other comments that these changelogs are stupid and frustrating, is the answer really for us to want MORE apple rules and restrictions?

    I think the less Apple rules the better, let the market place be free.

    I don’t think the answer is us wanting more and more Apple rules.

    • sg1969

      what an idiotic comment.

      • James

        Nice contribution.

        So many devs and consumers alike are frustrated my apples ridiculously over zealous app review setup they have that sometimes can take even weeks. So my point is why would we want to add even MORE stuff for apple to take forever with.

        Not a stupid comment at all. In fact it’s a very valid point.

        The answer isn’t always more rules.

  • Duckworth Bennington

    Yup, hate it. Lazy / Sleezy fuckers.

  • IntelligenceAndPeace

    couldn’t agree more

  • Jeffsters

    This is typically a result of an Agile team releasing at a regular cadence as they move through X number of Sprints to a shippable product. This allows many small fixes to made quickly rather than wait for 6 month monolithic release. You don’t have to like it but some us do! I would rather get fast auto updates than wait and wait for bug fixes. Fast iterative software development is here…get used to it.

  • Craig Lucas

    I agree 100% they are pointless & back slappingly bad

  • Adrian with a W.

    This is bad Product Management vs good Product Management IMO.

  • racerhomie2

    After automatic updates,the devs had little incentive to show what changes were made.But most of the changes are usually bug fixing in big time apps

  • MobiDev

    Do yourself a favor and read up on continuous development/continuous integration please.

  • Tommy

    Snapchat also does this sometimes.

  • James G

    Agreed for sure! I hate those generic updates. I love when devs like Eat24/Yelp or Tap Tap Tap add some creativity to theirs.

  • Saulo Benigno

    I agree with you! Hate these simple changelog

  • Zzyzxd

    Well, I hate those logs so I simply hit the update button and go back to my life. However, as a programmer, I somewhat understand their way of writing changelogs.

    I don’t think users want every detail of all the changes. Do you want to know something like “Dear customer, we just moved a button 1 pixel to the left”? How about “we changed sidebar color from #000000 to #808080”? Or even “We made changes in XXX algorithm so its time complexity has been reduced from O(n^2) to O(n log n)”? Apps like Facebook and Twitter are running on top of big platforms, where big feature changes don’t normally happens. Instead of keeping telling you “improvements and bug fixes”, encouraging you to turn on auto update seems like a better idea.

    I also hate apps that write changelogs like writing blogs. The purpose of changelogs is tracking history of version releases in a software’s life cycle, not for entertaining your users. I don’t like wasting my time reading an essay if it can be summarized into 10 words.

    So, as you can see, either way, it is quite difficult to write changelogs.

    • I don’t think it’s that difficult to say, “hey yeah, we made some interface changes and added speed improvements in this update.”

      Beside the point, as I pointed out, Facebook has been making MAJOR changes to their app without listing any of them. I really dislike some of the changes. Had I known they were coming, I probably would have kept an earlier version. These are not little changes as given in your example. They’re pretty huge.

  • Byambaa

    I think this change will not happen. What facebook and other social apps do is, they constantly look for ways how they show ads to us, they never want to tell “hey we have a new way to generate more money for us, update your app and you will see ads there and there, we hope appstore wont allow you to revert back to the older version, thank you zombies”. They see us as money making products so. 😀

  • It’s ridiculous that we cannot see what the changes are before we download the update!! Apple should definitely have an App Store rule in place to stop this from happening.

  • Noohar

    At least their honest


    And please, Tumblr, don’t turn change logs into comedy scripts. So f***** annoying.

  • racerhomie2

    poor suckers ,arent they

  • Gregg

    My personal theory is that they push out updates to drive up app usage. They reason: if we get them to update, they’re more likely to open the app to see what’s new. It’s about getting more of your eyeballs.

  • sg1969

    Apps like facebook do it to get rid of bad reviews, since it kind of “resets” itself after a new version. It’s dodgy, and Apple should not allowed this to happen.

  • Giovanni Cardona

    I agree, but… it will make them to lie about the update. Some updates are stupid or they are patching a security hole, neither of them will be detailed in the description. “We just rounded the icon corners a little more and changed the blue from #0000ff to #0000ef. Also we patched a nasty security bug that allows your facebook password to being displayed on screen if someone pressed the two volume and home buttons at the same time”… get it? People will then be ranting about “Why a 100Mb download for a round corner!” or “Thank you, now everyone knows how to steal my password if I don’t download the freaking 100Mb update!”

  • Silvio6

    I totally agree. This sh*t started with Facebook, and is spreading like a virus. As Apple is allowing (or ignoring) it, nothing prevents anyone from doing the same. And as you wrote, pushing unwanted features/options our way without our knowledge. It has to stop.

  • racerhomie2

    they are ,obviously poor and cannot read