Apple CEO Cook apologizes for Maps, suggests alternatives Bing, Waze

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook has issued a public apology for the company's new Maps platform, admitting "We fell short" on meeting customer expectations and suggesting that consumers consider alternative mapping technologies while Apple strives to improve the service.

Apple launched Maps last week in conjunction with its new iOS 6 mobile operating system revamp. Developed in-house, Apple Maps replaces Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps, which had been a fixture of the iOS ecosystem since the first iPhone hit retail in mid-2007. But consumers have been harshly critical of Apple Maps, identifying dozens of inaccuracies including missing roads, misplaced landmarks and mislabeled businesses--some have even stopped using the service in favor of accessing Google Maps data via their iPhone or iPad's Safari browser.

"We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better," Cook writes in a letter posted to Apple's website. "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… 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."

Cook adds that despite public outcry, more than 100 million iOS devices are using Apple Maps, with consumers already searching for close to 500 million 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," Cook notes.

Cook suggests that while Apple works to improve Maps, iOS device owners should consider downloading native mapping applications like Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing, Waze or MapQuest, or "use Google or Nokia (NYSE:NOK) maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their Web app."

The status of a native Google Maps app for iOS is unknown. Earlier this week, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said the company has not taken any steps to submit a native solution to Apple's App Store but added the two companies are in constant communication "at all kinds of levels." Schmidt said that any decision on Google Maps' return to iOS or approval of a native app is in Apple's hands. "We think it would have been better if they had kept ours," he said. "But what do I know? What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call."

The New York Times reports Google is at work on a Maps app for iOS, although it is unlikely to surface for at least several months. Sources said Google was blindsided by Apple's move to end their mapping relationship and did not begin work on a native Maps app until after Apple publicly announced its own mapping service this June. In addition, Google is rumored to be readying a Google Maps with 3D imagery comparable to Apple's, but its own 3D technology exists separate from its Google Maps database as part of the Google Earth service, and combining the two will take some time.

For more:
- read Tim Cook's letter

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