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Scott Forstall and Maps: Is He to Blame?

The iPhone 5 is a more radical upgrade to the iPhone than iOS 6 is to iOS. Opinions on iOS becoming oldish abound. Before WWDC 2012, many had high hopes on seeing new and radical changes to the aging iDevice operating system. Today, not only iOS 6 is seen as a small step forward, many points their finger at failing initiatives like Siri and Maps. The latter being one of the most visible failure of Apple in a long time. How this came to be? Is it a problem of setting expectations to the right level or a more unforeseen one, like a leadership issue?

Last year, the Siri introduction was tagged as being a technology still in beta stages for a good reason. Because the technology was a work in progress, Apple had to set the expectations accordingly. This did not prevent many to criticize Siri performance but this bashing is nothing compared to this year Maps fiasco. There is two reasons for that. First, there was nothing compared to Siri in place on iOS so we couldn’t compare. In the case of Maps, we had Google’s version for years and we quickly found out how worst Apple’s version was. Second, when demoing Maps at WWDC 2012, it was like if it was the best of its class on every front: user experience, integration with other parts of the operating system, content and accuracy. Clearly, this was misleading and expectations wasn’t set at the right level.

But who is to blame? One might look at Apple iOS leadership, Scott Forstall. Is he too anxious to release technologies that are unfinished? Could Apple wait another year before kicking out Google Maps out of iOS and allow for a transition period? This would have been a bit awkward to offer two mapping solutions. The more I see this, the more I think this is a personal decision by Mr Forstall that was based on the desire to kick Google out as soon as possible first then put their mapping solution in the hand of millions of users to get a vast amount of feedback on the content. This is very risky and we see how hard Apple is feeling the heat. 

Should Apple change iOS leadership in the wake of the Maps backlash from the users? It may be too soon to say but if I was Tim Cook, I would put Mr Forstall on notice. 

To complete my point of view here, have a look at Tim Bajarin article at Tech.pinions.

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An idea for Siri’s next release

Would be cool if we could expose a task we want to do with Siri and we would get back a list of apps that can help us accomplish this task.

One simple example: I want to take the bus to go down have lunch. Help me. Siri’s answer would be a list of apps installed on the phone that are known to be related to transportation and finding restaurants downtown near my current location.

Cool hey!

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