When Apple’s self-branded Maps app was announced for iOS 6 at WWDC this summer, iPhone owners, critics, and even the executives in Cupertino did not predict the fiasco that would ensue. Before its launch, Apple and countless media outlets highlighted the directional app’s advanced features such as turn-by-turn direction and 3D Flyover. But with the introduction of these new abilities, users found three crucial inadequacies: inaccurate locations, no public transit directions, and no Street View capability.
Apple’s severed ties with Google left iOS users with a navigation app that simply did not measure up to the search engine giant’s efficient Google Maps, but iOS 6 users aren’t the only ones acknowledging this sentiment. Apple CEO Tim Cook published an apology letter to users on Friday, vowing that the team is “doing everything we can to make Maps better.”
“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.”
Cook’s open letter to fans marks the second time Apple has publicly commented on the problems affecting Apple Maps. The company issued a statement soon after the launch of iOS 6 to say it was “working hard” to fix the Apple Maps application.
Apple hasn’t explicitly detailed the actions being taken to improve Apple Maps, but reports have indicated the company is hiring workers exclusively for the application. On Sunday TechCrunch reported that Apple may be recruiting those who have worked on Google Maps to help develop its own product.
“Many of my coworkers at Google Maps eventually left when their contracts ended or on their own accord,” the source, a contractor who had previously worked on Google Maps, told TechCrunch. “One guy looked around for other GIS work and ended up at Apple when a recruiter contacted him. He had heard rumors for a while that Apple was going to develop its own in-house mapping platform, and given his experience at Google, he was an easy hire.”
This is one of the few times Apple has had to make a public apology concerning a product. The last open letter dates back to 2007 when former CEO Steve Jobs apologized to early iPhone buyers for dropping the device’s price less than three months after its release.
But what makes Cook’s letter slightly unusual is the suggestion of third party apps, namely one from rival Microsoft, as a temporary solution to Apple’s Maps.
“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,” he writes.
The full text of Cook’s letter has been reproduced 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.