Apple services in limelight amid outage, Maps hire

Apple is wrestling with some weaknesses in its various service offerings, even as that part of its business is becoming ever more important to the company.

On Thursday, the company dealt with an hours-long outage that left many of its iCloud online services unavailable to users. Meanwhile, the iPhone maker has reportedly hired a navigation systems expert apparently as part of an effort to upgrade its long-criticized Maps app.

Whatever the problems with Maps, the outage was the more pressing concern Thursday. It reportedly started around 1 p.m. Pacific Time and was not fully resolved until almost 9 p.m. Among the services affected by the outage were reportedly the iOS, Apple TV and Mac app stores; iCloud Photos; and iCloud backup.

Apple reportedly offered no explanation for the outage.

While the downtime appeared to be a short-term problem, the company is also dealing with a longer-term thorn, its Maps app. Widely ridiculed when it launched, replacing a version that relied on Google’s mapping data, Maps has since seen steady improvements and has become the most widely used mapping app on iOS devices. But it still lacks features compared to other navigation apps and devices and its reputation remains tarnished in users’ minds by its initial rollout.

Potentially to help with its Maps effort, Apple has hired Sinisa Durekovic, who helped develop the satellite navigation systems used BMW and Mercedes Benz, Bloomberg reported. Durekovic joined Apple in October and has relocated from his native Germany to San Francisco.

News of Durekovic’s hiring comes some two weeks after Apple announced that it was setting up a software development office in Hyderabad, India, that would focus on the Maps application. Apple said it would hire up to 4,000 people for that office.

The Hyderabad office opening and the Durekovic hire could also potentially be related to Apple’s not-so-secret effort to develop a car, dubbed Project Titan. As part of that effort, Apple is reportedly developing autonomous car technologies, which often rely on well-developed digital maps.

Apple’s service business was one of the few bright spots in the company’s last earnings report. That portion of its business grew 20 percent in the company’s second quarter from the same period a year earlier to $6 billion. In the quarter, services accounted for more revenue than either Apple’s Mac or iPad business lines, the first time that ever happened, and the growth in services came as Apple’s overall sales fell 13 percent.

Photo: Screen shot from the website for Apple’s iCloud service.

 

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