Apple Apologizes for Its Maps Problem

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"We are extremely sorry," Apple CEO Tim Cook says in an open letter.

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Following a little more than a week of user complaints and critical press, Apple CEO Tim Cook has published an open letter, apologizing for the new iOS 6 Maps app and encouraging customers to download other maps from the App Store, such as Bing, or to just go ahead and use Google Maps in a browser.

He wrote:

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

As unusual as this may seem, it is not unprecedented for Apple to offer an apology for its missteps. In the past, Apple has done so for a "Baby Shaker" app, flawed software on the iPhone 4 which over-represented signal strength, for difficulties customers experienced ordering the iPhone 4, and for dropping the price of the first iPhone by $200 just two months after it went on sale, punishing early adopters. That said, the Maps fiasco stands out among those other mistakes, undermining the functionality of one of the shiniest jewels in Apple's crown -- its phone -- in a way none of the earlier errors had.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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