Love letters: App release notes we adore

By Stacy Warden on Not published yet

Let’s face it, minor updates and changes to our most beloved apps tend to go unnoticed. Much like meeting up with the same Tinder match for the 10th time in a row, they eventually lose their appeal, they start randomly showing up at the most inopportune moments and they rarely have anything novel to offer. Thankfully, the landscape of the language appears to be changing (or at least we’re hoping it is). Over the last few months, we’ve seen release notes pop up that suddenly demand our attention in the most delightful way—not because they’ve offered any particularly enticing updates, but rather they’ve made us laugh from start to finish. And really, isn’t humor the key to any long-lasting relationship?

With that in mind, here are just a few of our favorites.

Slack: The charmer

Slack already holds a special place in our hearts, but now it’s earned itself some bonus points thanks to its always punchy release notes. Without digging into too much detail, Slack makes certain to tell us exactly what we can expect in even the most minor update, while injecting just the right amount of charm. Check out these examples:

  • Performance enhanced in a perfectly legal and organic way. Zoom zoom.
  • File comments now show up in real time, almost faster than you can type them (but not quite).
  • Support for single sign on, “SSO,” which will be available in the near future. Or “in the distant past,” if you’re a Time Lord.
  • Fixed: Long file names were being truncated at 22 characters, which was important to fix for those who like their filenames really very detailed.
  • Fixed: Numbers documents can now be displayed. 1, 2, 3: Yay!

Baby List: The comedian

The folks behind Baby List must’ve grown up on all the right sitcoms, either that or they’re watching a lot of Nick at Nite. How else would they have known that we’d swoon over the “Fresh Prince” parody when they channeled a young Will Smith with this particular update? They nearly lost us in the beat, but when they made it a point to call out the update’s main focus (bug fixes and improved security features) we were smitten:

“When a couple of bugs who were up to no good
Started making trouble in our neighborhood
So we cracked down hard, and they got scared
Now our new security features keep them out of your hair”

Tumblr: The dreamer

Tumblr took things to the next level when it ditched the cookie-cutter release note in favor of a little fanfiction about its CEO and founder David Karp in a board meeting. It began like this:

“4.3 roared David Kar across the boardroom table. He spun on his heels, turning his back to the board. His shoulder muscles rippled through his gingham shirt.

4. 3? We can do better than that. We HAVE to do better than that.”

Things carry on like this for a while with an eventual breakthrough moment of insight at the end to wrap things up (you can read the rest of it here). And sure, it didn’t provide us with any insightful information about what we might actually expect from the update, but, like the ideal dating profile, a little mystery can go a long way.

Trello: The jetsetter

We’re big fans of Trello, thanks to its amazing boards and lists that help us stay more organized than a soccer mom armed with a Venti five-shot latte. And we’ve fallen even harder for the software when it was able to make us smile with otherwise humdrum information. Here’s a favorite section of the release note from Trello iOS 3.0:

“Trello iOS is proud to be available in Spanish, Portuguese, and German. With all these options, we considered removing English. (In the end cooler heads prevailed.)

Trello iOS took foreign-language night classes.“

The release note goes on—as most Trello release notes do—to paint a vivid picture (if you’ve got some time to kill, go ahead and check out the full version). The stories that follow the actual information can get to be a bit much, but we appreciate the effort.

So when it comes to writing a heartfelt release note, which love letter tactics are your favorite? Whether you're a sucker for the funny guy or gal, that smooth talker or perhaps the well-traveled globetrotter, we hope your Valentine's Day is filled with whatever it is that you love.

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Stacy Warden

Stacy Warden is a contributing editor of the Pluralsight blog and has worked in publishing since the dawn of the iPhone. Currently, Stacy deals in tech and education--a combination that she finds absolutely fascinating. You can find her on Twitter @sterrsi.