September 15, 2015 Last Updated 1:56 pm

Apple updates iWork apps day before iOS 9 launch; British Airways releases iOS 9 update

Apple’s own app descriptions are not exactly the gold standard, but others have started using their app descriptions to encourage feedback, thank users by name for pointing out app bugs, and have a bit of fun with their loyal customers

The day I updated my personal iPhone to iOS 9 I noticed a series of updates, or I thought they were updates, for Apple’s own apps. In the end, I concluded that this was merely a solicitation to install the apps, not actual updates.

iWorkapps-340But today, one day before the public release of iOS 9, Apple has updates available for Keynote, Numbers and Pages, its own office suite of apps. Of all the companies that make apps for the iOS platform, Apple is surprisingly not the standard for clarity and transparency in its app descriptions. Apple’s description for the app updates is simply “This update contains stability improvements and bug fixes.” Not exactly the gold standard for app description writing, is it?

Google is far better. Take, for instance, the update released today for Google Maps:

What’s New in Version 4.10.1

  • See where you’re going before you leave with a Street View thumbnail on the map (for address search or tap-and-hold on map)
  • View the custom maps you created using Google My Maps
  • Easily share your opinion about places you’ve been with an improved review-writing flow
  • New Google Maps logo

Now one could argue that since so many iPhone owners turn on automatic updating that they never know what the updates are for anyway. That’s true. But there also users who experience issues with an app and are waiting for an update. They want to know if the update may solve the issue they are experiencing with the app.


Take the user reviews for the iOS version of Pages, users have been complaining about the app for a while now, yet the app description is so vague one doesn’t have a clue what fixes have been acknowledged.

I guess I just admire good app description writing. It is so rare. But lately I’ve begun to see a few developed actually include the names of reviewers right in their app descriptions for updates, thanking them for their input and encouraging more feedback, including direct contact. This is brilliant.

First, it allows users to be real world testers, providing the developer with feedback regarding the performance of their app in many situations. For instance, how does the app perform on older devices.

Second, it dampens down the angry criticism some feel the need to express, usually when they feel the developer is oblivious to the performance of their apps. If someone has taken the time to write a review, chances are they are interested in hearing back.

Apple’s system does include a feedback mechanism, one that I think few actually use. When you write a review of an app you can tap/click on “Report a problem” and it will take you to a page designated by the developer. That’s nice, but I am guessing few use the feature. Also, it is too specific, maybe the reviewer has a suggestion, rather than a problem to report.

The App Store could have been very interesting if the objective originally had been to build a social network, a community. What would the store have looked like if originally designed by Facebook, for instance?

BA-iPhone-380None of Apple’s updates for its iWork apps mentions iOS 9, though I would assume they all have been tested in that environment, and the main reason why they were updated today.

British Airways plc is one of the few companies to release an update that mentions iOS 9. In fact, the update for their iOS app, simply called British Airways, only says “Support for iOS9” in the app description.

The British Airways app early on received some negative reviews, but the most recent reviews from users are all positive. “One of the best airline apps available,” the most recent review states. “Not only excellent for BAW flights but also for any code share flights in the same reservation.”

Returning to the subject of app descriptions: the update for WATCH TCM is pretty epic. TCM, or Turner Classic Movies, is one of those channels that I really wish were on the Apple TV, and one I might think of paying for should I cut the cord with Comcast completely.

Every time this app is updated, I am reminded, though, that I really need to use the app more. The app offers movies on demand, a schedule, and much, much more.

The update, which brings up to version 2.9.9 is rather massive, one you should check out for yourself.

Unfortunately, the latest review of the app says this update may have broken the app. Hopefully this isn’t true and the person is just having device issues, or the app needs a clean install. In any case, as I check out not only the update description but then the reviews, I have decided to hold off on downloading this update for a few days, just to be sure.

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