Apple senior vice presidents Craig Federighi and Eddy Cue appeared on John Gruber's podcast, The Talk Show, which was published today. The pair gave the long-time writer some interesting insights into the state of Apple, its products, and the path that the company is on.
Let's start with the numbers. Cue says that the company "just passed over 11 million Apple Music subscribers," which is right in line with the "over 10 million" figure reported by Financial Times last month. And while we learned last month (during Apple's quarterly earnings call) that there are 1 billion Apple devices in active use, Cue says in the podcast that — since many people own multiple devices — the company has 782 million iCloud users. Those users are uploading billions of photos to iCloud every week, according to Cue.
About halfway through the podcast, Gruber brings up Verge executive editor Walt Mossberg's column from last week about the feature gaps, bugs, and performance issues of Apple's proprietary apps. Gruber calls it "sort of damning," and says he doesn't see anybody who really disagrees with it. This part of the conversation starts at 37:38, but here was Federighi's response:
There’s big responsibility in transitioning the experiences for a lot of these apps. These are so important to people and we see it every time we change them at all. And you know there are cases where, if you look at Photos, where we did a really bold rethink of where Photos needed to go, and how to transition it. And by and large I think that’s been well-received, and I personally love it. But you’ll hear people who say "hold on," you know, "there was a reason why I liked the way things used to be." And people are pretty serious about their music, and about their collection, and so I think we talk, we debate pretty heavily internally the right way to evolve these things. And we tend to err on the side of being pretty bold, but there’s a lot of responsibility.
You get the other side of these stories, you know some of the people, when you talk about people nodding your head if I look at some of the comments that come online when people say "yeah Apple’s quality’s bad," and someone will say "yeah, like when they took away my iPhoto app and replaced it with Photos, I don’t like the new Photos app." And that’s why they think Apple’s software quality is bad. Now many of us would say "well hold on, no, this is exactly an example of where Apple’s software quality is quite good. We delivered something faster, cleaner, simpler." But someone’s going to say "no but it’s changed and I was attached to it." This is a tricky balancing act, and I think our customers give us a lot of responsibility to thoughtfully evolve their experiences, and we try to take that responsibility very seriously.
Earlier on, Gruber asks Cue and Federighi about how the upcoming tvOS 9.2 release will finally bring Siri voice dictation to Apple TV. ("We wanted to do that right from the beginning," Cue says.) Gruber even chides the two about the now-infamous Super Bowl photo that Tim Cook took and then deleted after some nasty feedback. (Cue: "I thought it was great, because it shows, you know, Tim is just like you and me. He’s a huge sports fan, and was loving it, and he loved that his team actually won the Super Bowl.") If you're itching to hear more about Apple from the mouths of two of its highest ranking officers, the entire episode can be heard over at Daring Fireball.