CUPERTINO — Longtime Apple PR director Steve Dowling is now VP of communications — the role that Katie Cotton stepped down from last year. 

Apple's corporate website has been updated with Dowling listed in this role among the company's leadership. Dowling, who joined Apple in 2003, was named the interim head of communications last fall as reported by Apple Insider.

According to Apple's website, Dowling reports to CEO Tim Cook and now leads PR, employee communications and corporate events on a global level. Prior to this, he led the corporate PR team.

Whether Apple would promote — either Dowling or colleague Nat Kerris — or bring in an outside heavy hitter has been a source of speculation since Cotton stepped down. Among the outside names mentioned were President Obama's former spokesperson Jay Carney, who has since joined Amazon. 

Re/Code reported last year that CEO Cook was looking for someone who "he believes could put a friendlier, more approachable face on Apple’s public relations efforts." 

Before joining Apple, Dowling was a CNBC producer in Washington DC and setup the news organization's Silicon Valley bureau as its bureau chief.