Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Associated Press
Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized Friday for the company's error-ridden new mobile mapping service and pledged to improve the application installed on tens of millions of smartphones. In an unusual mea culpa, he invited frustrated consumers to turn to the competition.
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the iPhone 5 on Sept. 12 in San Francisco. He said on Friday that the company is “extremely sorry” for the frustration that its Maps application has caused and promise swift changes.
The Associated Press
Cook said Apple "fell short" of its own expectations.
"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 nonstop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard," he said in a letter posted online.
Apple released an update to its iPhone and iPad operating system last week that replaced Google Maps with Apple's own map application. But users quickly complained that the new software offered fewer details, lacked public transit directions and misplaced landmarks, among other problems.
People have been flocking to social media to complain and make fun of the app's glitches, which include judging landscape features by their names. The hulking Madison Square Garden arena in New York, for instance, shows up as green park space because of the word "garden."
Until the software is improved, Cook recommended that people use competing map applications to get around -- a rare move for the world's most valuable company, which prides itself on producing industry-leading gadgets that easily surpass rivals.
Apple has made missteps in the past -- even under founder Steve Jobs, whose dogged perfectionism was legendary.
"I think they are clearing the air and, more importantly, clarifying why they had to do their own maps," said Tim Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst who's followed Apple for decades.
He recalled an infamous problem with the iPhone 4's antenna that interfered with reception when people covered a certain spot with a bare hand. Jobs apologized, though he denied there was an antenna problem that needed fixing. Apple quickly recovered.
But Cook's remarks went further, saying the company was "extremely sorry" and promising swift changes.
Contrast that with Jobs' statement from 2010, when he said the antenna issue had been "blown so out of proportion that it's incredible."
Still, Jobs also acknowledged that Apple was "stunned and upset and embarrassed." But he insisted the antenna issue was not widespread.
On Friday, Cook said the new version of the mapping app was designed to give users the features they've been asking for. It includes turn-by-turn directions, voice integration and a 3-D flyover feature.
Google's map application for the iPhone did not give turn-by-turn directions or voice-guided navigation, although its version for Android devices does.
Google, Bajarin said, wouldn't license the turn-by-turn feature to Apple because Google prefers to give devices running its own Android software an advantage over the iPhone and iPad. Maps and navigation are among the most-used features of smartphones.
Cook said Apple's Maps will get better as more people use the app and provide feedback.
But for now, Cook actually recommends that users look at other options -- including Google 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," Cook said.