Today Fast Company posted a story by Rick Tetzeli featuring an “inside look at Tim Cook’s Apple.” (We discussed this story a bit on this week’s episode of Upgrade.)
It’s a good story in that while it acknowledges a lot of Apple-is-doomed tropes, it’s careful not to fall into them itself. There are a bunch of gems to be unearthed from the story, the best of which probably comes from the section about Apple Maps:
“We made significant changes to all of our development processes because of it,” says Cue, who now oversees Maps. “To all of us living in Cupertino, the maps for here were pretty darn good. Right? So [the problem] wasn’t obvious to us. We were never able to take it out to a large number of users to get that feedback. Now we do.”
Apple now does public beta testing of its most significant software projects, something that Jobs never liked to do. In 2014, the company asked users to test run its Yosemite upgrade to OS X. Last year, it introduced beta testing of iOS, which is the company’s most important operating system. “The reason you as a customer are going to be able to test iOS,” Cue says, “is because of Maps.”
The Apple Maps story is instructive about Apple in that it shows a very Apple-like mistake—something that emerged from a flaw in Apple’s standard product process—and reveals Apple’s diagnosis of the flaw and attempt to repair it. The original Maps team was reportedly tiny, and is now large; the data for places around Apple was good, cloaking how poor the overall dataset really was, leading Apple to become open about testing its software and services more widely.
It’s definitely worth a read for the tidbits and the Blue Steel portrait of Craig Federighi. Also worth reading: the sidebar by Mark Sullivan interviewing Bozoma Saint John about Apple Music.