/ Technology

Apple’s Maps apology – an incredible admission of failure

Post it with 'Sorry'

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has publicly apologised for the state of its widely ridiculed new Maps app. It’s an incredible, and near-unprecedented, admission of failure. Well I didn’t see this coming!

It’s been hard to miss the ridicule directed at Apple’s new Maps app. Released last week as part of iOS 6, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, the new app replaced the one previously powered by Google and was meant to bring Apple up-to-date with competing maps on Android and Windows Phone. The reality was quite different.

From Paddington Station going missing and being directed to Luton on the South West Coast, Apple’s new Maps app has been the very definition of a farce. It’s not totally without merit – the maps look lovely, load very fast and now have turn-by-turn navigation – but without accuracy all this counts for naught.

Apple’s public apology

And after a week the criticism has become so vocal that Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has written a public apology, in which he writes:

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.

It’s a vanilla apology if ever I saw one, but there’s one killer sentence:

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.

In effect, Tim Cook is saying Apple’s Maps are so bad, you’re better off using rival services via a web browser. It’s hard to fault the logic.

Use another mapping service

For me this apology is a revelation. Apple has apologised for things in the past, such as the infamous antenna-gate incident with the iPhone 4. But even in apologising for that, Apple was defiant – it dedicated a lot of time to pointing out it was a problem not unique to the iPhone, for example. It was ‘sorry we got caught’ not ‘we’re sorry for making a mistake’.

But here Tim Cook right out admits a total failure; a failure that was obvious to many who tried the app before its official release.

No doubt the post-mortem will be long and tortuous, but if evidence were ever needed of the difference between Tim Cook and the late Steve Jobs, just read this apology.


As the famous quote goes, “it’s always easier to seek permission afterwards than ask for permission beforehand”, same applies to the apology.

How much money have they already taken from people? If they were genuine about this apology they would have postponed the launch date.

You’ve got to ask which cowboy decided it was fine to release as it was, as they must have known beforehand.

Didn’t previous versions of the phone come with Google maps, so why remove it, and leave something that poor ?

Just goes to show what they think of their customers.

Glad I’m not one of their Cash Cows.


Very simply licensing was up for renewal and Google refused to allow turn by turn navigation forcing Apple to develop their own app to include this much wanted feature. The maps are provided by Tom Tom and others which have millions of perfectly happy customers but of course aren’t as accurate as Google’s maps YET, they will be in time though. In fact, because of the way they are updated (by end users) that will be sooner rather than later. If Google cared they would have had an app ready at the launch of the iPhone 5 but they didn’t, so what does that say about them?

Apple has fouled up and Morag has offered an explanation for the problem. I’m not sure where that leaves users because it seems unlikely that it will be possible to move back to the previous operating system if maps are important to them. Hopefully the issue has been publicised well enough so that those who have not updated can decide whether or not to move to iOS 6.

I don’t think it is as bad as Microsoft allowing people to pay for Windows Vista and then pay again for Windows 7. Some are/were happy with Vista but I’m one of those who think it was Microsoft at their worst and that it is disgraceful for anyone to be asked to pay to replace Vista with Windows 7.

I do wish that Apple had warned people of the problem before anyone had installed iOS6.

Having given this more thought, I wish all companies would admit their failures.

I have a lot of respect for Gerald Ratner for admitting one of his inexpensive products was total carp. I now have respect for Tim Cook for having the guts to admit what many already know.

Who’s next to be honest when they produce something that isn’t up to scratch? Maybe Panasonic or Sony. Maybe the companies who sell mobile phone contracts and decide to increase their prices in the middle of a contract.

Has Google search been vastly improved since it’s conception? No, if anything it’s been steadily degraded by spam results as Google sits there and takes it’s position as the leading search provider (and its users) for granted.

I also get the feeling that a lot of the criticism was fuelled by users who had invested a considerable amount of time feeding Google Maps information only to have it all wiped out on iPhone overnight.

I have to say I am satisfied if not mildly pleased with the new maps app having used it with success in place of my old iPhone GPS. Sure, there are errors. Just like Google it doesn’t have a clue where my new house it but I have found it to be ‘just as wrong’ rather than a step backwards.

Am I the only one who feels this is a bit of a non-story?

Sorry Lazer, you may not be alone, but I think you must be in a very small minority. I would estimate 60-70% of my searches on the new Apple maps have returned no results – street names (properly spelt) – well-known local hotels – all returned nothing!

The map’s useless!!

Tulipb says:
2 October 2012

Apple should provide a route whereby people who are dissatisfied with Appke Maps can restore their kit to IoS5.

Mollusc says:
3 October 2012

It’s not the loss of the google maps app that has irked me per se, it’s the loss of street view.
Hopefully google will get street view to work in Safari mobile quickly.

Mistakes happen. The time to bleat is if nothing is done to put it right pretty speedily.

Snowdin says:
5 October 2012

The new Apple maps are a disgrace, a dereliction of duty in terms of quality control. Where is Stratford on Avon, why is Congleton now Astbury, why has Swanage become Ulwell and what is this town Norton in the middle of the Solent northwest of the un-named Yarmouth? As far as the UK is concerned the maps are riddled with error.
However in addition to removing a wholly superior mapping system I gather a load of other changes were made, including some undocumented (to the public) security updates so going back to iOS5 may not be a great way forward. I’m simply going to change to a more reliable app.

Switching to another system is exactly what Tim Cook recommended in his apology.

Good point about the benefits for switching to iOS6 irrespective of the maps problem.

DRCS says:
5 October 2012

Google Maps App for the Ipad 3 is so superior to Apple Maps that I cannot understand how a company such as Apple allowed this release. You will all have your own stories but my area of Nottingham is obscured by cloud and in black and white and Notts Golf Club doesn’t exist apparently! Roll on a revised Google maps app as the web browser version on the Ipad is not as good as on PC

As previously mentioned, there are good reasons to move to iOS6, loads of updates all over the iOS. Maps isn’t the be all and end all of an iPhone, its an addition, far from perfect, but you can use other maps. Loads of people have Tom Tom, Copilot, Waze, and other Sat-Nav Apps on the phone already anyway.
YouTube has been removed from iOS, but there’s an App, I suspect Google are just trying to make life hard for Apple, same way Apple make life hard for Google’s OS. Google will release their mapping App, in their own sweet time, when this non-issue has done enough damage to Apple’s reputation.

It’s amazing how much felgercarb some Apple fashion victims will put up with in order to justify owning a cool looking piece of kit.

It sure goes some way towards explaining the ridiculous satisfaction ratings Apple get.