Monday, May 25, 2015

Never Miss an Opportunity for a Semantic Nudge

When submitting an update to Apple’s App Store, a company is required to specify the reason for the update.

An engineer looks at this as a burden. But a writer sees an opportunity. An opportunity to separate his brand from the pack, to forge a voice.

A few recent examples:

BAD
Twitter
This update includes minor improvements.

Google+
Bug fixes

GOOD
Chromecast
- Redesigned devices view, showing devices as cards with backdrop and casting status
- Added setting to change backdrop speed
- Browse through history of backdrop images recently shown on your Chromecasts
- Improved reliability and performance of backdrop cards
- Improved multiuser and multi-Chromecast backdrop settings
- New backdrop content: Street Art from Google Cultural Institute

GREAT
Medium
There’s an iOS app we call Medium
‘Tis a great cure for your tedium
You can highlight in story
Add tags for more glory
And many more people be reading ‘em

(Oh yeah, and we fixed a particularly nasty bug that was causing a lot of crashes.)

NBC – Watch Live
- We identified and smashed a few technical bugs like we were the Hulk (did we mention we offer classic TV shows?)
- We told Airplay to continue streaming when you lock your device. Because your binge-watching shouldn’t have to kill your battery.

Related: How Semantic Nudges Can Humanize Your Website

Addendum (6/12/2015): Just spotted this lovely update from NYT Now:

New
- Snippets: Share snippets of New York Times articles by selecting text within the article
- Handoff Support: Continue reading stories on your Mac or other iOS devices

Improvements
- Reduces the amount of space the app uses on the iPhone
- Improves scrolling performance
- Makes visual tweaks to the feed and share cards

Bug Fixes
- Fixes an issue where in certain cases swiping on an alert would not open an article
- Fixes an issue where readers were unable to save to Safari Reading List

Addendum (6/21/2015): And how about this gem from Tumblr?

- Real blocking of real jerkwads. Really! Block someone and they won’t be able to follow, message you, or interact with your posts. They won’t even see you in search results. Good riddance.
- Share blogs with whoever might interested in those blogs. Friend, followers, countrymen. Lend them your blogs.
- A thinner sidebar for iPads in landscape mode, for a more relaxed fit where you need it most.

Addendum (6/30/2015): Kudos to Noah Chestnut for pointing this one out, from BuzzFeed News:

Hello from #teamnewsapp. Do you know how to consistently match your parameter types to your method signature? Did we mention we’re hiring? Also we fixed that crash. Sorry about that.

- Ever wondered what we mean by “Major Breaking News” or what kind of alerts we sent to “Business & Technology”? Tap on a category and we’l show you a list of recent alerts.
- If you adjust your text size in iOS settings, that will not be reflected in the app. Not suiting, for the win.
- We improved the sharing flows for Facebook and WhatsApp. Twitter improvements coming next1
- And we made some behind-the-scenes changes and fixes to keep your BuzzFeed News app humming along smoothly.

Now back [to] your regularly scheduled programming.

Addendum (9/5/2015): App Release Notes Are Getting Stupid