I have started reading all the app update messages in the App Store before upgrading my apps to the latest versions. The update messages typically fall into two buckets: 1) minor bug fixes and 2) big major feature pushes with lots of exclamation marks and Unicode stars.
I’ve never read an update message trumpeting that the app now does less than it did before (and nothing else). Makes sense because fewer features is not a commonly recognized achievement.
Yet all my favorite apps and services are the simplest ones. The ones that are respectful of my time.
On a whim I opened Angry Birds recently, which I had not done in at least six months. I was surprised at how much each interface screen looked like a Christmas tree: new features dangling off it like ornaments, without proper consideration for balance or integration.* If I could downgrade to the version of the game from 6+ months ago, I would. Granted, design for games and apps are quite different, but in this instance the design challenge is shared.
A small suggestion to battle feature bloat: if a feature of your app is only used by 1% of the active user base, just kill it. This is a crude heuristic and won’t always work, but it’s a good start. And celebrate your merciful kill in your app update notes.
*I wish I could take credit for the Christmas tree metaphor because I really like it, but I believe credit is due to @dens by way of @bryce.