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Apple CEO Cook Apologizes for Messed-Up Maps: "We Fell Short"

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A week after an Apple spokesman downplayed the lackluster Maps app in iOS 6 by saying, "We are just getting started," CEO Tim Cook has a few words of his own for disappointed Apple customers: We're sorry.

"At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers," Cook said in an open letter published on the Apple website. "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."

To that effect, Cook notes that over 100 million Apple devices have already made more than half a billion location searches with the new Maps app, and the company is using that gargantuan amount of data to fine-tune the Maps experience. Legions of unhappy iPhone 5 owners have complained that the Maps app is buggy and often unreliable.

Cook then took the extraordinary step of offering the names of competing mapping services that customers can use while Apple gets its Maps act together, suggesting apps from Bing, MapQuest and Waze and even going so far as to explain how to get Google or Nokia's web-based maps working as a selectable iOS icon.

Apple may have a reputation for keeping criticism at arm's length, but the company isn't afraid to address a concern head-on if it's an issue with product quality. Steve Jobs held a press conference to discuss the iPhone 4's "AntennaGate" issue and offered users a free case or $15 for their troubles, remember.

The full text of Cook's letter is 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