Developers have certainly made great use of the Alpha and Beta distribution channels in the Play Store since they became available last summer. There was one glaring oversight: developers could only write a single block of text for the "What's New" section. This often led to changelogs that left beta testers in the dark about changes or confusing regular users with promises of new features and fixes that hadn't yet materialized in the stable channel. Well, this problem ends today. Google has finally opened up support for distinct changelog text for each channel!

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 12.16.30 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 12.13.21 PM

Things don't look all that different from before. After uploading a new apk to the developer console, just click on the new entry to bring up details and hit "add text." When a user looks at the What's New section for your app, they will see text for the channel they will be downloading from.

When it comes time to promote a version from one channel to another, the What's New text and all of its translations can be carried across. Google has already copied changelogs for your existing apks across all of the channels you're currently using, but they can be updated at any time.

Channel-specific changelogs have certainly been a looooooooong time coming, but it's welcome nonetheless. Now, developers, it's your turn. Start writing!

Source: Google Support via DroidLife

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • Cristi

    At last!

  • Gregor Smith

    What's new?
    - Bug fixes

    • Tomáš Petrík

      And performance improvements.

      • Mike Reid

        Enhancements sounds nice too. ;)

      • SSDROiD

        And stability improvements. Personally, I think "performance enhancements" and "stability improvements" is the best way to put it, but I guess it's open to debate.

    • aouniat

      Facebook beta!

    • RockAndRock

      What's new ?


    • http://www.geordienorman.com/ George Byers

      I have a feeling Facebook will be doing exactly that...

    • Roh_Mish

      that sounds facebooky.

  • Mike Reid

    Good, I've been specifying Beta features with "Beta Mar 20: - New Feature" type entries.

    Is this bigger than 3 different "What's New" sections ?

    I'm wondering if previous app versions (Each APK) has an associated "What's New".

    Only 1 of my 2 apps is showing this now, LOL. Both have Beta's. The one showing has a "We've Moved" image under "Recent changes" and says:

    "Recent changes are now specified for each APK individually.
    To edit the recent changes for your APKs go to the APK page for your application. "

    Sometimes people can only get an old version of your app, such as when you disable Android 2.0 support and release new versions. So I'm thinking they would see an old version of "What's New". Which is probably a good thing.


    This may be too complicated, but I really want APK-specific changelogs. For example, Twitter has its changelog for "This update includes several improvements and bug fixes." For quite some time now, despite the fact that I am now seeing RT and Favorite options through the notifications, but they can't write that because it's still a feature being rolled out. Again, might be too complicated, but I know I've certainly had lots of days where I receive an update where the changelog is several days/weeks old because it applies to the "general" release.

    • https://twitter.com/YannDinendal Yann Dìnendal

      You mean… like what the article is about?

      • SSDROiD

        Isn't the article solely about the Alpha, Beta and Stable versions of the app? I'm talking about all the different versions of an app. If that is what the article is about, then I'm simply confused.

        • https://twitter.com/YannDinendal Yann Dìnendal

          Oh, ok, I see what you mean. Well, that what I understood from the screenshots: one changelog for each APK (whatever its channel). But it's true it isn't very clear...

  • Hellboy
    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      Hey nimrod, no spamming your crappy app in comments. Go away.

  • Crispin Swickard

    I am somehow doubting this will change the Chrome Beta update listings..

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      In the case of Chrome Beta, I kinda hope it doesn't change. That's one instance where I prefer having Beta as a separate app. If anything goes haywire, I can quickly go back to the stable version without messing around with joining or leaving any testing groups.

      • Crispin Swickard

        I was just referring to the fact that they just basically toss you a link in the whats new section for it. I have been using the Beta since it came out, so I agree entirely on the app itself. :)

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          That's a big lolno :) Nothing is gonna change there. The What's New section has a limit to how long the text can be (I forget how long that is) and those changelogs tend to be enormous with specific bug fixes and such.

          • Crispin Swickard

            Understandable, but some greatest hits for the non super advanced people couldn't hurt on the main update post.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

            Oh, believe me, I agree there. It annoys me every time I see an update to either version of Chrome that somebody couldn't be bothered to take 3 minutes for a quick copy/paste of the bigger points.

  • http://twitter.com/Rodrigost23 Rodrigo Tavares

    I think the most amazing about this news is that now we have separate changelogs per version, instead of only one "What's New" section totally unrelated to the updates,

    • SSDROiD

      Am I the only one who thinks that's exactly what was unclear in this article? I thought this meant that developers could write different texts for releases in Alpha, Beta and Production phases, but when it comes to the Production phases, the developers still only had a single block of text to use for all Production versions. A bugfix for users with Android 4.4.2 KitKat would still show the same What's New text as me with my Android 4.3 Jelly Bean device. Have I misunderstood and we will finally get changelogs specific to our update, or is it still a general changelog for the "Production" phase?

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

        I genuinely don't see what is confusing. Even Google's documentation clearly describes this functionality in relation to different tracks. Note: I used the term "channels" instead of "tracks" because I believe it's more clear.

        I'll use your scenario to expand on this. Let's say device A running 4.4.2 and device B running 4.3 both visit the page for Instagram. If both devices are in the production group, they will see the exact same changelog. If the owner of device B joins the beta testing group, that device/user will see the changelog for the current beta version while device A continues to see the current production changelog.

        There will not be separate changelogs based on your individual device, but only based on which channel you're in. It would be virtually impossible to determine which changelog should be seen by people viewing on the web.

        I haven't tested it, but I can imagine there might be an exception where multiple apk support is concerned (for the relatively few developers that use it). Tasker would be the prime example of this, since it uses multiple apks to support the pre-ICS version and the post-ICS version. Somebody else will have to confirm this one, though. Google didn't explain how multiple apk support plays into this scenario.

        • SSDROiD

          That's all the information I was looking for, thank you very much! The only thing I meant different is that I meant if both devices visit the Play Store, not the web interface, but the rest of your explanation makes it perfectly clear for me now, thanks again!

  • black

    The title is misleading. The what's new is per apk not alpha/beta/prod.

  • RockAndRock

    It's better now !