iOS App Release Notes are loaded with personality

It is not new that app developers tend to show some personality in their release notes (I am really curious how many “regular, non-nerds” read those anymore). However, I saw a few awesome examples of app developers taking extra care about their craft and showing some love in release notes. All these apps were updated in the past two days, and all this awesomeness got me excited enough to write a post about it, after a long hiatus! That is how excited I got!

My latest favorite Annotate App (which is what I used to create these screenshots and which was a life-saver in recent moving and home-improvement projects)

Annotate release notes

The Medium app seizes your attention by starting on a somber note. Very creative.

Medium release notes

Slack, making an awesome reference to Hitchhiker’s guide (and yeah, how come there is no :towel: emoji)

Slack release notes

Overcast, with a short and sweet reference to bugs in iOS 9 and Dark Sky having a talk with charts that wobble.

Dark Sky release notes

Yelp (which continues to be awesome, I had called them out for awesome release notes way back in May 2011)

Yelp release notes

And the amazing Trello, which seriously levels up, has a @steveplustrello twitter account and

Trello release notes

It is also nice to see people asking for reviews nicely in release notes, as opposed to interrupting the user’s flow inside the app. In a world of auto-updates, If a user is interested enough to read your release notes, they are quite likely your more engaged users, who are arguably more likely to take the time to leave a review for you. (or atleast tweet about it).

Nice job, app developers.

Theme for 2015 -> Creation

Reading the 37Signals blog post about picking a theme for the new year rather than a resolution really resonated with me too.

My theme for 2015 is going to be : Creation

If you think about “Stuff” (content / knowledge work / whatever), there is a hierachy of Creation, Curation and Consumption. I’d give myself a 9/10 in Consumption, probably a 6/10 in curation and a measly 3 out of 10 in Creation.

Creation -> Curation -> Consumption Hierarchy

This year, I want to change that. I want to get more deliberate about curating and do more creating.

If you haven't talked to a customer today, you are doing it wrong

Great advice for entrepreneurs and Product Managers from Startup L Jackson. In effect he asks us to come up with a framework that guides/informs your intuition. Keep refining the framework everytime you meet someone new!

And there are a few specific examples of how you can keep refining it based on who you meet.

Anyone and Everyone:

Ask everyone you meet what they believe, and why. When you’re talking to your Cousin Eddie, ask him about his favorite apps. How does he buy stuff? Does he watch YouTube? How does he find new restaurants or plan his travel? How does he advertise his small business?

Founders:

When you meet other founders, ask them how their business works. Treat them as experts with insights that can help you improve your framework. Who are their customers? What do their customers love about the product? What have they tried that customers hated? How do they explain the product to customers? They’re building a marketplace, cool! How much do providers have to make to stay engaged? How many uses before a buyer sticks?

Customers:

And if you have an area you’re working, talk to customers. Every day. Talk to users of your product, active, inactive, new, and old. Talk to people who don’t want to use your product. Talk to people who are using a competitor’s product. Talk to customers of products in adjacent markets. Now, reread this paragraph and replace talk with listen.

The full article

Conflict Strategies for Product Managers

I saw this article on HBR (it is from last year). It is meant for “nice people”, but I think these are just as applicable to Product Managers, who often need to wield influence without authority.

Teams need conflict to function effectively. Conflict allows the team to come to terms with difficult situations, to synthesize diverse perspectives, and to make sure solutions are well thought-out. Conflict is uncomfortable, but it is the source of true innovation and also a critical process in identifying and mitigating risks.

As a PM, you need to be comfortable with a healthy level of conflict. Healthy Conflict is a sign of passionate people who stand for something. If you are not getting push back on your ideas, you may be settling for mediocre local maxima.

The secret of having healthy conflict and maintaining your self-image as a nice person is all in the mindset and the delivery. To start shifting your mindset, think about your value to the team not in how often you agree, but in how often you add unique value.

Wow! and now for a couple of specific tips:

  1. Use “and,” not “but.”

May Sound cheesy, but this is a flavor of the Yes And Principle in Improv.

  1. Ask for help. Another tactic for “nice conflict” is to be mildly self-deprecating and to own the misunderstanding.

The wrong way to be a hero is by avoiding conflict or “taking one for the team”. Don’t be that kind of a heroic PM.

Full Article

Short Form Blogging

  • Negotiate a comfort zone on two axes.

  • Traffic is irrelevant

  • Have fun. Blogging is not your job. Don’t add it to your to-do list. If it’s not fun and you’re not done? Screw it. Take the baby to the park instead.

This “short-form” post from Gina Tripani inspired me to get back at it again. Nope, no in-depth medium style pieces, probably a lot of tools/tips style posts and a bunch of link posts (like this one). The last time I wanted to post, I ended up updating my theme, so fingers cross if it’ll work out this time.