release notes inspiration

This article was refreshed on June 12th, 2024, we’ve added two more examples of the best app release notes.

While app release notes are designed to help keep users informed about updates and improvements, they’re also an excellent opportunity to exhibit brand recognition and identity. 

However, they aren’t always good. Often, they’re really, really bad.

Scroll through some of your favorite apps’ release notes, and you’ll likely find they are dry and boring, giving only small insights into what was updated. They often write “bug fixes” and leave it at that. 

As an app (mobile, desktop, or both), you want user stickiness. You want users to be raving fans and encourage their friends, families, or business colleagues to use your app.

To ensure user stickiness, you want them to know about your newest, coolest feature. A great way to do that is through release notes.

In this article, we share what app release notes are, why they’re important, how to write them well, and some of the best (and worst) ones we’ve seen.

Table of Contents

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App Release Notes For Your Brand: Quick Setup, Easy To Use

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What Are App Release Notes? 

App release notes describe changes to an app that are released to the public. They typically include new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. Users may read app release notes to stay up-to-date on changes and ensure that they are using the most recent version of the app.

Today, if you pay attention to the “What’s new” section on App Store release notes or Google Play Store release notes, applications have two approaches:

  1. They don’t care to notify users about new changes
  2. They make it funny and eye-catching

If you view app release notes on a product’s website, they won’t be much different. Odds are if the in-app notes are poor, the release notes featured in their ‘What’s new’ updates will be as well. 

According to Wikipedia (Aka, a well-trusted source on the internet),  application release notes are technical documents that accompany software products in beta stages or software products that have been enhanced or repaired. These notes explain to the customer or client the details of the particular version of the product they are using. They attempt to assist the customer in installing the update and provide confidence to the user regarding the product.

The notes can be technical or generic, depending on who your end user is. Regardless, the common rule is to include the following:

  • Build number
  • Additions
  • Removals
  • Changes
  • Fixes

App Release Note Best Practices

Release notes for apps usually don’t have a technical background and are more interested in how the update will affect their user experience. 

To write good app release notes, you should make them:

Relevant and Useful 

Sending out app release notes about changing your secondary brand colors from “orange” to “burnt orange” is probably not super relevant to your users.

Only share information that is relevant and useful to the user.

If your app is for buying used cars, and you release a new feature that allows people to get text message updates if their preferred car model, make, and year pop up in their area, then that’s incredibly relevant!

And if they see a notification about this update, they will likely engage with it.

And when they engage in it, they’re subconsciously being trained that “these in-app release notes notifications are valuable to me. I need to keep clicking on them.

Entertaining To Read

If your app release notes are dull, dry, and “blah” they’re not going to make as much of an impact as you’d like.

How will you get your users excited about your app if your release notes are as lively as a dead fish? 

Want to get your users excited about your product’s updates? 

Sound excited.

Easy To Understand

Now, this depends on your user’s technical competency, but release notes should frequently be written in layman’s terminology.

Let’s use the idea we used in bullet point #1 regarding the app for used cars releasing a new text message feature.

There are two ways to write this. One is complex and challenging to understand, while the other is quite simple and engaging.

  1. Bad: “Our app has officially been pushed through production for Version 4.1.7, which now enables SMS updates for vehicle specification requirements based on user interest. If legally opted in, the user may get notified of…” (I’m going to stop there because this is already so boring.”
  2. Good: “You can now receive text messages when your favorite Make, Model, Or Year is listed for sale in your area! You want a 2017 Mercedes C-Class? All you have to do is opt-in for text messages, and we’ll ping you every time a new 2017 Mercedes C-Class is listed for sale.”

Visible 

When using apps, people usually don’t click around to search for app release notes. They’re using the app!

So when relevant updates are ready to get pushed out, users should see them through clear in-app notifications.

Leveraging other channels, such as email, is also helpful for increasing visibility. Do you want to know how to increase the visibility of your release note even more?

AnnounceKit is a fun and easy way to publish release notes while also providing users with avenues for feedback and product roadmap navigation. Don’t hide your release notes from users, and don’t hide from users themselves.

Our product announcement tool allows you to display release notes and changelogs in a fun, easy-to-use, and engaging way. And you don’t even need to know how to code to use it. (This means your non-coding project manager can take over, or you, as the app developer, can take a break from coding for once.)

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App Release Notes For Your Brand: Quick Setup, Easy To Use

Manage release notes and product announcements from a single place.

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💡 Best App Release Notes: Our Top 7 Picks

Slack and Medium

At AnnounceKit, we appreciate release notes and changelogs that exude style. Two common apps that do just that during their release and changelog updates are Slack and Medium. 

One Medium release note says, “This week, we’re bringing you a very topical Medium update: we’ve made it easier for you to browse topics with a new carousel on the home feed and new search page.

Have you had enough of cringing at the puns in those topic sentences? Great, we can move on to the less topical items of this release. We’ve also added better deep linking support for publications and granted writers the ability to opt into curating their stories in the post editor.”

A good example of Slack’s conversational tone during their release notes is this update: “For the eagle-eyed: Yes, the last release was numbered 3.61. This one is 19.2.1. You haven’t missed anything or been asleep for a decade. We just changed the way we number releases.”

See how these release notes aren’t dry? They’re easy to understand, witty, and represent the brand well. Creating good release notes is not just about letting users know you made changes; it’s letting them know why you made the changes while throwing in a little bit of character.

 👉 Related article: Why do you need a product updates page?

Mediums App Release Notes

Asana, Twitter & Netflix

Asana, Twitter, and Netflix can make boring updates funny and exciting to read. 

These applications have something fun to tell you! They show that even small bug reports can be delivered in a way that will make you smile.

For example:

  • Asana: “You smell that? Do you smell that? Dead bugs, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of dead bugs in the morning… (er, nothing to report except for a few generic bug fixes).”
  • Twitter: “Better, faster, stronger. We cleaned up behind the curtain, so your Twitter is even better.”
  • Netflix: “We’re working on the app experience. You work on what, when, and how you watch next. That’s just as important. We know you have choices. In this release, we’ve made some gallery improvements so it’s easier to find the perfect thing to watch.”

It is up to you to decide how to announce product updates, bug fixes, and new feature releases. 

But AnnounceKit helps you announce them with sophistication and suave. 

From the moment you sign up, your personalized changelog page will be ready and waiting. 

There is no lengthy setup process, no need for custom code, and no stress or fuss. Simply adjust the colors so it’s on brand, add your logo, and you’re off! Our app release notes feature includes:

  • Customizable public changelog page
  • Privacy options for internal use
  • A serve changelog under your domain
  • The ability to collect feedback and reactions to your posts
  • Rich media content

It’s easy to create stellar release notes when you have the premier release note tool to do so.

Asana Twitter & Netfix - App Release Note Examples

Tumblr

Tumblr is known for its quirky communities, creative posts, and witty release notes.

One recent note states, “Thanks for choosing Tumblr, the place for art and artists. Unfortunately, some bugs chose to connect with others over shared interests. We had to let them go. Follow changes.tumblr.com for further updates and blog fixes.”

Instead of saying, “We fixed bugs,” another charm of Tumblr is that it doesn’t forget to recommend that users check out exactly what was changed via its changelog.

Discord

As an app that brings online communities together, Discord also brings its users into the fold with a fun, entertaining, and informative approach to release notes. 

They also just celebrated a birthday in May and decided to reward users (who read changelogs) with information on a giveaway celebrating their nine years on the internet.

Discord also makes its “What’s New” tab apparent so that all users can keep up to date with the newest additions, fixes, and features. Their release notes even make a nod to users who tune in from time to time, leaving little notes for them like,

 “P.S. If you love reading about stuff like Electron updates, unicode rendering fixes, and tangible reductions in crash rates shown in percentages, you’re in luck: our Engineering team has collected the latest technical fixes to show how they’re always making Discord better.”

9th
9th context

Worst App Release Notes

It is more common to see simple “bug fixed, performance improvement.” Seems like many companies followed Facebook’s lead and have decided that in their “league,” updating customers is not cool.

The blog’s purpose is not to offend some companies (Instagram, Facebook, Uber, Google Drive, etc.) that create boring release notes. Obviously, they have their own reasons to keep things generic and simple. 

Instead, we want to inspire you to take a creative approach and make your boring ‘What’s new?’ section interesting and entertaining. 

Here’s a sum of what most app release notes look like for these big-name apps:

  • Google Drive: Bug fixes and performance improvements
may 30 bug

Microsoft Word: This month’s update is bug fixes.

may 30 2

DocuSign: Bug fixes and enhancements

whats new 1

Instagram: The latest version contains bug fixes and performance improvements.

Version history

Considering how many developers work at Microsoft Office or Google Drive and how fast their applications improve, none of the startups can catch up. So why do such big corporations not even bother with curating good app release notes?

They may not have to, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good strategy, especially one for newer app developers. 

Side note: Release notes, like any other business activity, must correspond to brand management. It is understandable to see the conservative, structured release notes from companies such as the Economist or DIORMAG…  But you would expect at least Instagram to make something more exciting…

How Much Do Users Care About Release Notes?

As an app developer, you may wonder, “Is anyone actually going to read my product’s release notes or changelogs?” 

The answer is yes. And the number of your users who actually read app release notes might surprise you. 

One Medium writer decided to do a deep dig on how many app users read release notes based on demographics. Using help from an online community willing to answer surveys for free (a subreddit called r/samplesize), they found that out of the 372 respondents, about 84% claimed they read app release notes. 

Another surprising find was that over half claimed to read them sometimes, and 33% reported reading them regularly. 

While this is a small sample survey from a corner of the internet, it paints a broader picture of the importance of writing good release notes to reflect your product and brand.

The Time Facebook Release Notes Caused Drama on Reddit

It wouldn’t be the internet if something as small as release notes didn’t occasionally stir up a fuss. 

One big debate started when Facebook decided to keep app release notes generic and stopped notifying users about bug fixes and product updates. And the internet was not happy.

DRAMA.

In response to the internet-wide backlash, one Facebook employee took to the comment section of a Macrumors article to defend the choice by essentially arguing that:

  • It is a tedious task.
  • Features are typically not released to everyone. There’s no point in putting in a release note for a feature you can’t yet use.
  • Logistical hurdles: translating release notes to multiple languages to hundreds of millions of people.
  • Users don’t even bother to read about new updates and features.

In conclusion, the post ended with, “Release notes are useful for small applications with a few changes each release but are useless for large, complex applications with hundreds of developers. We’re not trying to keep secrets from you. There are just simply better ways of telling you what’s interesting when those features are ready for you.”

This response was swiftly ripped apart on Reddit, with some users responding that release notes are not contentious and are helpful for understanding major updates regarding compatibility. 

The point is: You users care about the effort you put into your app release notes — and they notice when you don’t care. The good news is that AnnounceKit makes it easy to create compelling release notes and changelogs. 

Without AnnounceKit, your app release notes process might feel like this:

best app release notes

Once you use AnnounceKit, the process feels a little more like this:

best app release notes 2

AnnounceKit: The Ultimate Product Announcement Tool To Get Your App Release Notes Noticed!

That extra effort you make to create a funny and engaging product announcement can indeed make somebody smile. 

Your loyal customers will be excited to read about new features or bug fixes. After all, your business’s primary goal is to satisfy users. Optimizing your release notes to improve public perception of your product is an excellent way to give people what they want: a good product with great branding. 

AnnounceKit allows you to streamline the way you announce features of your product and receive feedback. 

Our innovative announcement platform allows you to: 

  • Create eye-catching widgets so your users never miss out on an update.
  • Allow users to submit feature requests and vote on the pens they’re most interested in seeing.
  • Boost user attention to important updates and product announcements.
  • Create a roadmap so that users can see the evolution of your product.
  • Receive instantaneous feedback from users.
  • Keep users in the loop with automatic updates submitted via email or Slack.
  • Target specific user segments.
  • Use a powerful AI assistant to help you create interesting release notes.
  • And more!

Don’t miss out on an excellent opportunity to connect with users and strengthen your brand. Learn more about our release notes software and start your free trial today.

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App Release Notes For Your Brand: Quick Setup, Easy To Use

Manage release notes and product announcements from a single place.

Go to Website

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