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Friday, September 28, 2012, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Apple CEO Tim Cook apologizes to customers for Maps in iOS 6

Apple on Friday published an open letter to customers on behalf of CEO Tim Cook, who formally apologized for Apple's new Maps in iOS 6 and "the frustration this has caused our customers."

Cook vowed that his company is "doing everything we can to make Maps better." In the meantime, he said, users can download third-party mapping tools from the App Store such as Bing, MapQuest or Waze, or use Web-based options like Google Maps or Nokia's product.

The comments from Cook also corroborate a recent report that indicated Apple's switch to its own mapping solution in iOS 6 was driven primarily by the company's interest in providing turn-by-turn directions. Under its previous agreement with Google Maps, voice-guided navigation was not available in the iOS Maps application.

"We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS," Cook wrote. "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."

iOS Maps

3D rendering issues in Apple's Maps app.


Upon its debut with iOS 6, Apple's new Maps application was met with a flood of criticism from users who complained of incorrect positioning data, poor routing and Flyover rendering issues. Apple's new mapping solution is generally seen as inferior to the product it replaced, which was powered by Google Maps.

Friday's letter by Cook is the second time Apple has commented publicly on the Maps controversy. The company first issued a statement soon after the release of iOS 6 to say it was "working hard" to fix the Maps application, and that the company appreciates customer feedback.

Incomplete Data

Google Maps' building data (left) versus same view on Apple's Maps (right).


Apple's mapping team was said to be "under lockdown," attempting to quickly fix some of the larger issues with iOS 6 Maps. And the company was also reported to have been luring ex-Google Maps engineers to work on its new application. Apple also began advertising for new positions available for mapping developers on its website.

One of the most-cited features missed by users with iOS 6 Maps is Google's Street View functionality. That feature is reportedly coming to the Web-based version of Google Maps within two weeks.

Cook's full letter is included 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.

Tim Cook
Apple's CEO