On iOS 8 Maps, Music, and managing culture
While the sheer quantity and quality of announcements made at WWDC 2014 was enough to stun a bevy of bloggers, there were some anticipated announcements that didn't materialize, things like updates to Maps and Music. So what's happening with these key apps in iOS 8? Unless and until we hear from Apple, all we have is rumor. And for the maps part of that, we have Techcrunch:
Why didn't [key changes to Maps appear at WWDC 2014]? One tipster says it was a personnel issue: "Many developers left the company, no map improvements planned for iOS 8 release were finished in time. Mostly it was failure of project managers and engineering project managers, tasks were very badly planned, developers had to switch multiple times from project to project."
It's a take that is both contested and corroborated by our other source. "I would say that planning, project management and internal politics issues were a much more significant contributor to the failure to complete projects than developers leaving the group," the source said.
9to5Mac adds some specifics:
While the TechCrunch report doesn't mention any names, we do know that the mapping team has lost a few key people recently. Back in March, reports popped up that Cathy Edwards, who happen to be in charge of Maps Quality after joining Apple through the company's acquisition of Chomp. The reason behind Cathy's departure was unknown at the time, but we've learned from sources that disagreements with employees on the Maps team working under Edwards and an opposition to her management style lead to problems on the Maps team and ultimately her leaving in April. Apple also lost key Maps team member Jared Waldman from Placebase who worked as Head of Geo at Apple Maps until late last year. In addition, we've heard from former employees of the mapping team that recently left the company due to issues with Edwards and management of the Maps team.
This follows similar reports about the state of Apple's music services from Buzzfeed:
Like Ping, the development of iTunes Radio suffered from a shortsighted strategy, sources said. "Pandora is an awesome radio that blows iTunes Radio out of the water. Seriously, iTunes Radio sucks and it sucks because of Apple's arrogance," one former, mid-level employee said. "I was floored by the decision-making skills by management over and over again."
Apple employees confirmed that management actively ignored iTunes' streaming competitors, with some managers refusing to open or use Spotify. One source said that as recently "as last year," some members of management didn't even know that Spotify was an on-demand streaming service, assuming it was just a radio service.
Any time something happens at Apple there will be people who say it was because of arrogance or infighting, just like there will be people who say it's simply the normal course of normal business. That's really what it comes down to — people.
Apple is no different than any other company. It's composed of people, and it has a specific culture. Not all people get along together, and not all people fit into all cultures. If that's hard to believe, just imagine your own company and the internal dynamics you deal with on a daily basis. Then scale that up to Apple and iOS feature delivery scale. The pressure, it isn't trivial.
We've had former Apple program managers on the Debug podcast. They're amazing people, capable of shipping on the scale WWDC keynotes and device events promise. Yet for every dozen or hundred successful fits there's bound to be a Browett or a Papermaster. There's bound to be people that just don't fit into the roles or teams they're put in. That's people and that's business — whether you're Apple or not.
That's not excuse making. That's reality. Any company that can drop Extensibility, Continuity, Swift, and the hundreds of other features shown off at WWDC 2014 doesn't need any excuses made on their behalf.
We'll get Maps Transit in iOS 8 or iOS 9. In the meantime, we have a lot of great transit apps in the App Store. We'll get subscription music at some point as well, even if it does come from Beats.