Apple’s embarrassment over the Maps debacle led it to start public beta testing for new i0S releases 

When Apple started public beta testing for new iOS releases, users were pleasantly surprised but also left scratching their heads at what prompted the intensely secretive company to take the step. The reason for the change: It was in direct response to the disastrous debut of Maps in 2012 (as part of iOS 6), which was panned by the public, prompted numerous apologies from CEO Tim Cook, and led to the exit of executive Scott Forstall, Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue tells Fast Company‘s Rick Tetzeli in his new cover story, “Playing The Long Game Inside Tim Cook’s Apple.”  

 “Look, the first thing is that you’re embarrassed,” Cue told Tetzeli. “We had completely underestimated the product, the complexity of it.”

At first, the fiasco led Apple’s leadership to consider scrapping Maps and to return to using third-party apps like Google Maps. But in the end, the team decided that it made more sense to get back under the hood to tinker and improve Maps, a decision that transformed the company’s approach to software. 

 “We made significant changes to all of our development processes because of it,” Cue said. “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.”

The imperative to constantly update and improve its products, based on the input of billions of Apple users, has been transformative, Cook tells Tetzeli: “The most important thing is: Do you have the courage to admit that you’re wrong? And do you change?”

[Photo: João Canziani]MB