1.8- gimmicks (lag beacons, stained glass trash, stupid new blocks)
1.9- Combat changed, tbh the change was okay, but thats about it
1.10- nether wart blocks. commands. Polar bears. Thats about it.
1.11- New types of villagers, shucker boxes, llamas and woodland mansions.
1.12- Tips for newbs, concrete, colored beds, and parrots.
So in other words, you get almost nothing useful with these updates. They only publish these updates so n00bs stop complaining for them to update the game. If you want to add more content to your game, do it with 1.7.10 mods. You'll have a MUCH better time.
And before I get flamed on by some mojang fanboys, tell me how any of this is useful or adds a use at all that I would actually use? (Besides 1.9 pvp and shields ofc).