Well, would you look at that. In a letter to customers released this morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he is “extremely sorry” that the company’s new Maps app for iOS 6 “fell short” of expectations. He promises that the app will improve, but suggests that users try out alternative apps, like Bing, in the mean time. Freakin’ Bing!
This un-Steve-Jobs-like display of humility comes just over a week after the release of iOS 6, which was drowned by a flood of reports about the various failings of Maps. The issue was so big that a blog about it popped up. Twitter and Facebook users predictably freaked out. The New York Times even jumped in to give the dead horse a few whacks.
And the most amazing thing is that this could have all been avoided. Since the release of the iPhone in 2007, Apple has included Google Maps — a far more mature navigation product — as a pre-installed app in iOS. But earlier this year, Apple and Google had a falling out over Google Maps. According to AllThingsD, Apple wanted turn-by-turn voice navigation in the iOS version of Google Maps, just like Android users have. Google said no. Apple pulled out of their contract a year early, ending the reign of Google Maps with iOS 6, which apparently caused Google to scramble to put together a new version — a development melee that is ongoing.
As Cook points out in his letter, the more “customers use our Maps the better it will get” — a process that will be accelerated significantly with today’s release of the iPhone 5 in 22 more countries around the world. Whether or not Cook will have to issue 22 more apology letters remains to be seen.
Check out Cook’s letter in full below:
To our customers,
At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.
We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.
There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.
While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.
Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.