Despite its importance to Apple’s ecosystem, iCloud has never quite become the cloud industry powerhouse it might have become. But it looks as if the company has plans to change that.
Apple is hiring for iCloud
The company has been quietly hiring leading cloud services talent in the last few months, including the recruitment of globally recognized experts in use of containers and Kubernetes and a spate of mergers and acquisitions.
The word seems to be that Apple is building out its cloud infrastructure, which strongly suggests the company will have a wider strategy it wants to reveal. Machine learning will almost certainly be part of this as the company presses forward with its work in the space.
One way this may be articulated is the use of AI in more domains and the creation of a wider range of APIs developers can use to build intelligence inside their products.
Apple has elevated the status of machine learning within the company during the last few years. It now has an executive position dedicated to it, held by former Google AI chief John Giannandrea.
It’s quite natural the company would continue to recruit experts to support this work. Recent recruits include ex-Docker engineer Michael Crosby and ex-AWS Maksym Pavlenko, who worked on managed container services at Amazon.
The report notes that Apple also appears to be hiring cloud-services talent to build tools for its internal software development teams. That’s of interest following recent claims that its cloud development work is hampered by reliance on third-party contractors.
It may also be of interest that Apple joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in 2019. Apple Software Engineer Alena Prokharchyk now sits on the Technical Oversight Committee of the foundation, while Apple’s Arun Gupta has a seat on the CNCF Governing Board. The company’s Chris Hein is an an ambassador to the group.
It’s important not to assume too much from this, as most of the biggest names in tech are represented at the CNCF – as well they might be. IDC claims that by 2022, 90% of all apps will feature microservices architectures that improve the ability to leverage third-party code, and 35% of all production apps will be cloud native.
Notably, Apple is currently recruiting a Product Marketing Manager, iCloud. This implies that the company is developing plans to spin out more product offerings on the back of its service.
If you think about it, Apple has always had a guaranteed iCloud user base simply on the basis of the service being so woven into its products. With many of the company’s iCloud-based services already represented by other teams (such as Music and TV), it must be planning to orchestrate some evolution in its iCloud offerings. Indeed, a recent ad for an iCloud Software Engineer seeks someone to “help develop the next generation of Cloud Services infrastructure,” mentioning both existing applications and “entirely new” ones. It also mentions the “next generation” of Apple Web services.
It’s not such a big deal that Apple is investing in technology expertise. It does so all the time.
What is a big deal is that the company appears to be seeking to introduce new web services, enhance its existing ones and (as it so recently did) expand availability of them into new countries.
It may also be worth considering the extended time it took for Apple to actually introduce iCloud Drive folder sharing. This was announced at WWDC 2019, but didn’t actually make it to the platforms until months later.
It now seems logical to anticipate the company will seek out other ways in which it can extend the collaborative and sharing features you find in iCloud Drive based on the work it just completed.
More APIs, rapid evolution of new iCloud features and services, and the introduction of more machine intelligence within Apple’s platforms seems the most likely short-term results of the company’s current push.
In September 2019, we heard a little around a more sophisticated voice-based technology called Overton. For the rest, we’ll wait and see – though it might be nice to be able to use your AirPods or other wearable devices to edit photos using iCloud.
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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.