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Apple Maps Was Such a Disaster It Changed How Apple Develops Software

In a new Fast Company profile that reveals nothing specific about what the tech giant is up to, Apple executives sat down to discuss how everything is fine and nothing is on fire. Maybe the only interesting part comes in learning how the infamous, bungled launch of their Maps app in 2012 changed their development process.

For one thing, “several thousand” people now work on Maps, up from the relatively small dozens that initially created the program under deposed executive Scott Forstall. Secondly, it showed Apple that maintaining services was substantially different from designing and releasing annual hardware and software.

The reason that Apple runs public betas of iOS and macOS now is also because Maps was such a misfire.

But the company did more than just throw numbers at the problem. Cook also forced his execs to re-examine, and change, the way they worked with development teams. Famous for being secretive, Apple opened up a bit. “We made significant changes to all of our development processes because of it,” says [executive Eddie] 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.”

But there are hints at the company’s larger ambitions. Apple executive Craig Federighi told Fast Company, “Maps is this core organizing structure for the physical world in which you interact.” The program integrates with a number of third-party services like Yelp and whatnot, but clearly the company has grander designs for infiltrating every part of your lifestyle.

Apple Uses Betas Now Because It Bungled Maps So Badly