Apple first: Tim Cook apologizes for Maps

Faith Merino · September 28, 2012 · Short URL:

CEO Tim Cook issued an apology Friday morning for the crappy iOS 6 maps app

If you’ve downloaded iOS 6 or purchased a new iPhone 5, you’re probably supremely disappointed in the Maps app.  Personally, I live in the suburbs and drive everywhere, so I haven’t had any issues with it, but my friends who take public transportation are seriously considering dropping iOS for Android.  Yikes.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has heard your lamentations and wants you to know that he has not forsaken you.  Cook issued an apology on Friday morning in the form of a letter that appeared on the Apple website.

“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,” Cook wrote.  “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

Interestingly, Cook added just enough of an explanation to all but confirm rumors that Apple’s reason for dropping Google Maps had to do with the fact that Google was unwilling to offer turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, and other features that it offers for its own Android OS.  Cook explains in the letter that Apple wanted to offer those features in its Maps app, but to do so, “we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.”

Interesting.  Apple has not responded to inquiries from Vator to confirm whether or not Google refused to offer these features for iOS, but it makes sense.  If you have an advantage over the competition in one or two key areas, why share?

More than 100 million iOS devices are currently running the new iOS version of Maps, according to Cook, who added that in the last week alone, users have searched for more than half a billion locations. 

An apology from Apple for one of its products is a pretty rare event—like seeing a dog play the piano—but what’s even more bizarre is to see Apple recommend its competitors’ products.  Cook does just that in his apology letter, advising dissatisfied users to download an alternative in the App Store, such as Bing, MapQuest, or Waze, or use Google or Nokia Maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen. 

Easier said than done.  Turns out, if you pull up Google Maps on your phone, enter your destination, and then go back to your home screen—poof, all of your directions are erased and you have to re-enter your destination address.  So you either have to keep the maps app on your phone the entire time, or you have to constantly re-enter your info.

Last week, Google Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt was asked about the Maps debacle.  He told reporters that Google has not submitted its own Maps app to the App Store for consideration.

"We think it would have been better if they had kept ours.  But what do I know?" he added.  "What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call."

Apple shares were down 1.77% as of 11:45 am PT to $669, compared with yesterday’s close of $681.

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