Like MobileMe and iAd, Siri and Maps have both suffered severe criticism after their respective launches. Apple's virtual assistant was dinged for its unreliability in understanding people and its often limited capabilities; while the company has improved that somewhat in subsequent updates, such as iOS 6, many still see the feature as more of a novelty than anything else. (My colleague Lex Friedman would beg to differ.) The reaction to Apple's redesigned Maps has been even more vociferous.
Cue has his work cut out for him in dealing with these two, but he's probably the right person for the job. The major complaints for both Siri and Maps seem to be more focused on the service aspect than the software itself. In my own review of iOS 6, I found that the Maps app itself is well designed, with the failures residing mostly in the data that Apple had at its disposal.
Given Cue's experience in dealing with services -- and especially in arenas where Apple partners with other companies, such as publishers, music labels, studios, and so on -- it seems likely that we can expect to see both Siri and Maps improve their capabilities going forward. CEO Tim Cook said in the company's financial results call last week that Apple has already spent time and effort to bolster Maps, and that it won't stop "until Maps lives up to our standards."
Expect to see reliability at the top of the list as well. While iCloud still has mixed results in that department, the service's integration with Apple devices and its non-existent price tag have made it hugely popular; Apple's latest tally pegs iCloud at 200 million users.
Wires and waves
Nestled deep in Apple's Monday announcement was this tantalizing nugget:
Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple's wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level.
It's unclear exactly what falls under the purview of Mansfield's Technologies group, but the broader implications are clear: Wireless technology is perhaps the most key component of Apple devices going forward.
This is hardly a surprise to anybody whose watched Apple for the last few years, as the company's tendencies have leaned increasingly wireless. Look no further than the iPhone 5, which includes a staggering number of wireless technologies: GSM, EDGE, CDMA, EV-DO, HSPA, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth. In fact, with the addition of Bluetooth to the revamped iPod nano, there's hardly a recent Apple product that doesn't include at least some form of wireless communication.
Add to that the development of multipurpose wired connectors like the company's new Thunderbolt and Lightning ports, and it's obvious that Apple's goal is to reduce the number of cables and wires needed for its devices.