Apple tells maps manager to get lost, report says

Apple has reportedly let go a longtime employee who was in charge of the company's homegrown maps service.

Apple has fired the manager in charge of its controversial mapping software, according to a new report.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg said Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue recently fired Richard Williamson, who was in charge of the company's maps software for iOS. Cue took over the maps product last month.

Williamson had been with Apple since 2001 and at Steve Jobs' NeXT Computer before that. His most recent role, according to his LinkedIn profile, was the senior director of Apple's iOS services team. He's also listed on numerous Apple patents, including one the company was granted in October for the original iOS maps app (pdf).

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple's maps app was released as part of iOS 6 in late September. Besides a new look and feel, the main feature is spoken turn-by-turn directions, something the software had lacked. Apple's own software also adds a snazzy 3D view of select cities using imagery captured from flyovers, something only users on Apple's newer devices can take advantage of.

Despite the niceties, the software came under fire for the accuracy of some of its data and other shortcomings compared to the Google-powered app it replaced. Shortly after its release, and subsequent scrutiny, Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized for the software and promised improvements. The ouster of iOS software chief Scott Forstall was said to be linked to that apology, and Forstall's unwillingness to sign it.

Apple so far has kept mum on improvements, though new 3D imagery and fixed points of interest and other landmarks have been noticed since the software's launch. Bloomberg said the company is going to "outside mapping-technology experts" as well as TomTom to speed up improvements. Meanwhile, Google is said to be in the final testing stages of its own maps application for iOS that will replace much of the functionality of the one that shipped in the first five versions of Apple's mobile software.

 

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