Apple exec reveals how your iPhone data is used to improve Maps | Cult of Mac

Apple exec reveals how your iPhone data is used to improve Maps


Hair Force One wants everyone to become a coder.
Craig Federighi oversees the development of both iOS and macOS.
Photo: Apple

In a new wide ranging interview, Apple’s senior VP of internet software and services, Eddy Cue, revealed how the company fixed a lot of mistakes it made with the launch of Apple Maps in 2012 by utilizing data from the hundreds of millions of iPhones around the globe.

Cue and Apple software chief Craig Federighi sat down to talk about the troubles with Apple Maps, the difference between working for Tim Cook and Steve Jobs, Apple’s competition with Facebook and Amazon and learning from failure.

During the FastCo interview, Eddy Cue admitted that the Apple Maps fiasco in 2012 was an embarrassment, only instead of giving up on mapping, the company’s leadership decided to triple down and think of the data problems in a new way.

“We’re trying to use the iPhone itself, and the data it’s giving us,” Cue explained. “Let me give you a good example: a golf course. How do we know when a new golf course opens up? We’re not exactly driving around looking for golf courses. But we know it’s there, because there are all these golf apps that get used at a golf course. If we see that all these golf apps are being used at a particular location, and we don’t show that as a golf course, we probably have a problem. You can discover that pretty quickly. It’s not as if you need a year, or anything like that.”

Apple Maps now has a team of thousands who continuously refine the product that Cue says will never be totally complete because new roads are always being built, businesses close shop, old bridges get torn down and the world keeps on spinning.

“While Maps isn’t a revenue-producing product itself, it’s a platform, said Craig Federighi. “It’s certainly an important feature in terms of the convenience it provides you, but Maps is a platform on which so many of our developers build. If you think about mobility in general, Maps is a core organizing structure for the physical world in which you interact.”

The duo also discussed problems Maps could solve in the future, like helping you keep track of your favorite restaurants, or maybe even suggesting restaurants based on your preferences. They also talked about what their relationship was like with Steve Jobs and how its different under Tim Cook.

“They’re both extremely demanding. Their approach is completely different,” said Cue. “I never wanted to disappoint Steve. I never want to disappoint Tim. And I have that with, like, my dad. I was here with [former Apple CEO Michael] Spindler and those guys, and I didn’t have it with them. That’s a quality that makes them unique. Now, their approach is very different. Steve was in your face screaming, and Tim is more quiet, more cerebral in his approach. But you have the same feeling. And when you disappoint Tim, even though he isn’t screaming at you, you get the same thing.”

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