Saturday, October 20, 2012

PM and QA (Apple Maps)

It's not a secret that for every PM who turned to the role to exert a larger sphere of influence than being able in an individual contributor role, there are thousands that did so to simulate work and walk around meetings with laptops. In my six years I've dealt with only exactly one PM who could serve as a poster example of what this role really should be about. Like any other track in life, not everyone is cut out for the job, just like not everyone is cut out for QA, research or people management.

Looks like Apple maps got the right people under one roof :-P

I'm not going to give the usual gripe about missing locations, etc, but a perfect example of something being really wrong about the team working on the maps application. I have the fortune of using a non-English locale (Russian) on my phone, so the navigation is localized as well. The text-to-speech engine is horrible. Basically, when pronouncing foreign names (in this case, English ones) you should either stick to the original (English) phonetics, or with the foreign (Russian) equivalents where possible. Ideally, this should be a configurable option, just like showing native or foreign street names. In the case of the maps application, it's impossible to tell what the TTS engine is talking about, as the pronunciation is neither English, nor Russian.

Which is nothing until once in a while, the map application refers to miles as milliliters, which sounds about the same in Russian as it does in English. The abbreviation used is "мл." (ml.), and apparently lacking context, once in a while the TTS engine says milliliters instead of miles. But not always. Astounding. This does tell me that foreign localization was not a real deliverable, was not done by native speakers, and was not tested or dogfooded internally. Overall - great PM and QA efforts that deserve a promotion to explore other opportunities.

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