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Apple finally has a plan to improve Siri, Maps, iCloud and its other services

Published Oct 6th, 2016 3:12PM EDT
Apple Services
Image: Apple

Apple may excel at many things, but historically speaking, services is not one of them. Thanks to less than stellar roll-outs for services like Apple Maps and Siri, not to mention persistently wonky iCloud issues, iOS users have reluctantly come to accept the fact that Apple often needs a few years before it gets even an elementary handle on a particular service.

Part of the problem is that there have been a few reports of in-fighting across some of Apple’s services-based engineering teams. Most notably, The Information reported this past April that “political infighting” between Apple’s iCloud and Siri engineering teams were preventing the company from addressing serious technical issues affecting both iCloud and iTunes.

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Looking to address the issue head-on, Bloomberg reports that Apple is now planning to unify all of its disparate services under one umbrella by moving all of its services-based teams into the company’s new Spaceship campus. In short, all of the teams that work on Siri, Apple Maps, iCloud, Apple Pay, Apple News and parts of Apple Music and iTunes will be under the same roof for the first time. As it stands now, many of Apple’s services-based teams work on technologies independently, typically in off-site locations close to Apple’s current campus at 1 Infinite Loop.

“The current structure contributes to software bugs and slow product development,” Bloomberg reports. “Bringing the teams together at a single, dedicated campus is designed to improve growth of the services business and fight competition from Google and Amazon, the people added.”

All in all, this is welcome, if not long overdue, news that will hopefully bring Apple’s suite of services up to snuff with its hardware and with its more reliable non-services oriented software products.

Also interesting, in light of Apple’s concerted efforts to improve the reliability of its services, is that Apple is intent on rolling out its own cloud infrastructure that will reportedly “give Apple more control” over the backend and will, in turn, help “speed up load times.”

Siri, Apple News and the iTunes Store are already on Apple’s new backend, the report notes, with other services slated to make the migration in the future.

Notably, word of Apple’s plan to develop its own cloud infrastructure first surfaced earlier this year. Citing a source familiar with Apple’s plans, VentureBeat this past March reported that Apple was intent on developing a proprietary infrastructure to lessen its reliance on services from the likes Amazon and Microsoft.

Apple isn’t happy with the fact AWS is not able to very quickly load photos and videos onto users’ iOS devices, according to VentureBeat’s source. Apple has bought land in both China and Hong Kong to build out data centers, the source said. Nearly all of iTunes is currently outsourced to other infrastructure, primarily Azure, according to the source. That said, the company certainly could be using Google’s public cloud in addition to Azure and AWS…

Apple executives believe that building out the company’s own infrastructure footprint to cover its cloud computing and storage needs will pay for itself within three years, the source said

This all sounds great, but only time will tell if Apple can, at long last, finally reach a point where its services can compare with other industry leaders as it pertains to performance and reliability.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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