Apple CEO Tim Cook has written an open letter to owners of iPhones running iOS 6 and its new internally developed Maps app, apologizing for the myriad of issues that owners have had regarding the performance of the app compared to its previous iteration when it was powered by the Google Maps API.
Interestingly, Cook suggests that those that have issues with the new Maps app switch to alternatives such as Bing Maps, Waze or even Nokia’s own Maps by using those respective web sites and creating homescreen widgets for them. Below, the letter in full:
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.
The letter follows almost a full week of criticism endured by the company after rolling out the new mapping program with the launch of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 to older devices. The criticism has taken many forms, with apologists defending Apple’s move to its own mapping program while admitting that Apple had no real choice if it wanted to stay competitive with Google Maps for Android, humorous parodies, and many takedowns written by the staunchest anti-Apple, pro-Android pundits all leading to today’s letter.
While Apple’s move to roll out its own mapping program was not unexpected, the botched roll out does demonstrate that it is not enough to simply acquire companies and form partnerships for mapping data, but an entire dedicated infrastructure must be put in place before making such a move.
Apple could and should have looked at Google’s and Nokia’s own issues with creating and launching their own internal maps infrastructure to learn what not to do, which culminated in both respective companies buying and integrating entire companies into their larger corporate bodies to speed up development and deployment of services for their respective mapping platforms along with years of mapping data in order to offer a more complete navigation experience for users.
Without such integration, neither Google or Nokia’s respective mapping platforms would not be where they are today, with Nokia having the advantage over Google Maps in terms of international support, and can also be credited for pushing the search giant to offer free turn-by-turn directions in 2010, which Nokia pioneered with Ovi Maps in 2009 along with full offline mapping and proper GPS hardware integration within its N and E series devices for a complete GPS solution.
Apple still has plenty of catching up to do with its Maps, but the letter serves as a nice gesture that it is listening to its customers, while cynics may scoff at the letter and will invariably use it as ammunition against Apple in the never-ending campaign to deride the company at every opportunity, such criticism misses the point entirely.
For its part, Google is also planning an iOS port of its complete Google Maps app as found on Android, but executives are taking great pains to stress that the app is months away and to not expect it anytime soon, for those that want to go back to Google’s product, which underscores how much iPhone owners came to rely on Google’s mapping data.