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Apple CEO Tim Cook Apologizes For Maps App, Recommends Alternatives 451

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-rebrand-it-as-stylized-earth dept.
TheBoat writes "Tim Cook has apologized for the company's Maps app in iOS 6. 'We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.' Cook said the company is continuing to work on the app, but recommended several alternatives in the meantime: apps from Bing, MapQuest, and Waze, or the map websites of Google and Nokia." This is unusual for Apple, but not unprecedented. Steve Jobs acknowledged reception issues with the iPhone 4 in 2010, but he wasn't quite so contrite about it.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook Apologizes For Maps App, Recommends Alternatives

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  • Wait, What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:34AM (#41487245)
    I thought the whole No Google Maps on iOS was a plan, didn't they use their app for 5 minutes, and realize the HUGE outcry when they removed it? Further, due to the massive amounts of money (which apple has in spades) and time (which apple doesn't have at this point) what can they hope to do to fix it? And why didn't they pull the plug before it got to release state? Somebody really dropped the ball, or lied out of their ass during the status meetings. I'm wondering when the firings will start.
  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:37AM (#41487267) Journal

    Steve Jobs would have never apologized. He woudl've given it just the right spin that everyone would feel contrite over making jokes at Apple's expense. The next release would be perfect, as Steve would have demanded, and the kerfuffle would be consigned to largely forgotten history.

    Tim Cook goofed.

    I agree that that map app is flawed, but first releases of anything usually is. I have no doubt that this will be fixed in short order as Apple has gobs of money to throw at the problem and knowledge of where the problems are.

    There is no better beta test than a general release.

    Disclaimer: I am an Android user and by no means an Apple fanboi. Frankly, I despise the company for abusing the court system for their anticompetitive practices. However, you have to give Apple credit here for admitting flaws. It's not something the company often does and they should get credit for it.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:45AM (#41487369) Homepage

    I want an apology for the fact that they've decided my 2.5 year old iPad isn't getting an iOS upgrade.

    That's way too short of a life to decide to abandon it. Telling your early adopters "tough luck" isn't a great idea.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:45AM (#41487373)

    I don't know about it being fixed in "short order". Think of how long it took and how many people it took to get Google Maps to the level it's at. Even if Apple spends enough to cut that time in half we're still looking at a decent wait.

  • 1/ When Apple fired him (for being an egomaniac), the company went in the toilet.

    2. When Apple rehired him, it became a trillion dollar juggernaut.

    3. When he died, it began it's slide into mediocrity (as the map app debacle illustrates).

    It really makes you wonder what one man's outsized ego can do to the performance of a company and/ or a product line.

    Perhaps Steve would have prevailed a month or two ago and said "our map app sucks, not ready for prime time." But now there is no such ego of equivalent standing in Apple.

    And the mediocrity of consensus, rather than the exacting standards of the dictator with the right aesthetic, means Apple is doomed?

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:48AM (#41487425)

    There is no better beta test than a general release.

    You should never, never, never, ever use a production release as a beta test. This is what Q/A teams are for. Apple can afford them.

    The point here is that Apple decided to create their own because Google wanted to run more ads and generally improve the branding on the maps app that Apple had been licensing from them in order to renew the agreement with the addition of turn by turn navigation.

    Normally I refuse to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, and in this case it was most likely a stupid decision to rush this app, but let's face it folks. Google's been mapping for years. They have a tremendous amount of money and resources invested in it. There's no way Apple could possibly catch up this fast. Though I wouldn't be surprised if they do eventually. They have enough money to pour into it.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by am 2k (217885) on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:52AM (#41487457) Homepage

    I agree that that map app is flawed, but first releases of anything usually is.

    The problem is, this is iOS version 6, not version 1. The customers don't care about inter-company politics. If they would, they wouldn't buy Apple products in the first place, being the kind of company it is.

  • by jest3r (458429) on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:55AM (#41487495)

    I agree the actual map data they have is really lacking.

    However it's not hard to find good source data either. Almost 30% of my searches resulted int he location simply being "not found". These missing towns for example are on every map I have ever seen. It shouldn't be up to iPhone users to add towns onto a map - that is base location data that should be there from the start. Users can refine pin locations and add points of interests. But towns and cities should all be there as they have existed in real life since the 1800's or earlier.

    You would think Apple would have audited the map data from their suppliers and realized that the maps themselves are sub-par.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday September 28, 2012 @09:57AM (#41487525) Journal

    as someone who bought apple shares before 2007 - i can only hope that fucking up then throwing money at problems to fix them carelessly is not the long term post steve jobs plan.

    Given the reports that they still had another year worth of contractually available Google Maps, if they wanted it, the early switch does seem like a questionable move; but the 'throwing money at the problem' part is simply an inevitability if they want to get into mapping.

    As they've learned(and any GIS people could have told them ahead of time...) the state of computerized mapping is such that you can't just throw a small number of talented programmers at the problem and expect it to work. Apple can do UIs, and the math behind various projections and coordinate systems and other cartographic stuff is available; but the underlying data about the real world are absolutely filthy and often patchy, outdated, scattered between multiple entities, etc, etc. They can either drop the product, or commit themselves to a long string of purchases of existing datasets and talent, and quite possibly a bunch of sheer slogging. Team Google doesn't have all those wacky spy cars running around purely for their novelty value, or because they have some moral objection to developing software to grovel through 3rd-party datasets...

    You can debate whether it is a problem worth throwing money at; but it is a problem that you either don't touch, approach cautiously and with a willingness to take it slowly(ie. openstreetmap), or go in with checkbook blazing.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:00AM (#41487557)
    Mod parent up! Apple may have money to throw at this issue, but they do NOT have the time. They might have if they have developed this for a few more years in secret, but now that it's out, they're boned.
  • by alen (225700) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:01AM (#41487579)

    plenty of crap released under steve jobs

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:01AM (#41487581)

    To paraphrase the AC.

    I don't think Steve would have allowed such as shitty product to completely be release.

    This is probably the beginning of many such goofs as Apple ceases to be Apple and becomes just another giant technology company.

    Steve was the nuclear fire that drove Apple. With the fire out, like a White Dwarf star, Apple will now simply fade away in the coming decades.

    Sad.

  • by Aqualung812 (959532) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:06AM (#41487631)

    If you're a football fan, I'd compare Steve Jobs & Apple to Peyton Manning & the Indianapolis Colts.

    The Colts were built around Manning, and when the team was all there, it worked perfectly. However, with Manning gone, they couldn't play the way they were designed to. Both the offense & defense were picked to complement Manning, and with any other quarterback, they are a poor team.

    I'd say the same with Apple. I think Cook can be a great change for Apple, but the team that has been built has been built for another quarterback. Either Cook needs to act like Jobs (which I think is a bad idea) or Cook needs to change the mindset and likely many of the staff at Apple.

    Either they keep going the same way or make a drastic shift, they can't work on a middle ground.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:07AM (#41487635)

    I agree that that map app is flawed, but first releases of anything usually is.

    That's acceptable if you're doing something really new and innovative that no one has done before – like the original iPhone itself, or the first release of Siri. On the other hand, if you're entering an existing marketplace, your first release had better be at least as good as the entrenched players, preferably better, or at least offer some substantial other benefit to offset that. (This is why I think Windows Phone 8 is going to be a massive flop.)

    This goes double if you're replacing functionality in an existing product. You can't replace a fully-working utility with a buggy beta and expect users not to complain loudly.

    There is no better beta test than a general release.

    Using customers as beta testers is a sadly common practice in the IT industry, but one reason why Apple has been so popular with users is that they've avoided doing this – up until now.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Goaway (82658) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:08AM (#41487661) Homepage

    Because if you want Google's data you play by Google's rules, and Google has things they want that Apple didn't want to give them.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:10AM (#41487687)

    turn-by-turn routing... Something standalone GPS units and Google Maps have had for years.

    Which is exactly why Apple chose to invest in their own map data and software: they could not come to an acceptable agreement with their direct competitor to allow them to offer this feature. Apple made the right decision. When they catch up in a year they will be in a better place and consumers will have more choice. Win, win.

  • Re:Wait, What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:13AM (#41487721)

    No, the plan was never "no google maps on iOS" the plan was "we need turn-by-turn navigation in iOS and our existing deal with Google does not enable that and we can't agree on licensing terms so we will have to roll our own".

    There's no conspiracy to exorcise Google from iOS - they still have several apps on iOS, it's just that the native maps app is no longer one of them (an app written by Apple in the first place).

    You've always been able to use google maps from Safari (or make an icon for it so you can launch it like an app), and many people did it this way because it had more features then the built in app which hadn't been updated in a long time. The same thing was true of Youtube - the version provided by Google on the web was better than the built in one (which Apple wrote back in 2007 and didn't see the need to update for this reason).

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:18AM (#41487795)

    No one outside the IT industry cares about the boundary between OS and applications. That's purely inside baseball. End users want their product to work in a user-friendly, integrated fashion.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:20AM (#41487829)

    I find it funny how the public will equally go nuts over a small problem vs a large one.
    My Maps are not as good as the last time. Vs. Company has been embezling and misusing our tax money. Same amount of anger and fustration. Why do you think companies are staying corrupt. Because if they try to be the good guys whatever minor mistake they will get the same slack is if they make a major problem.

    Can't be the good guy, so let just be the bad guy.

    We should save our bickering for the big stuff, and let the little stuff slide a litte bit. Sure in this case report the problem. OK the CEO appologizes. No that isn't good enough we want Blood because we were 10 minutes lake to that party.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:22AM (#41487857) Journal

    Because if you want Google's data you play by Google's rules, and Google has things they want that Apple didn't want to give them.

    Google is not the only company that offers maps with turn by turn directions. I'm actually surprised that Apple simply didn't buy a company that already has things up and running like they did with Siri. They could have purchased TomTom, for example and had everything up and running immediately. All they would have needed to do is write the app. I can't see how that would have been that much more expensive that starting from scratch and eating all the negative press.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interval1066 (668936) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:30AM (#41487971) Homepage Journal
    Agreed. Apple is so keen to cut their tether to Google they cut the customer's throats, "Kudos" to Apple for admitting they're wrong? Please...
  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:35AM (#41488049)

    I agree that that map app is flawed, but first releases of anything usually is.

    So you're saying they've adopted the Microsoft way: release software which is horribly bug infested, let the user's who've paid for the product tell you what's wrong, then go about fixing the problems you either knew about or were too lazy to fix in the first place because you saved a few bucks by not doing testing.

    Pretty much, yeah! The difference is that Apple users are not paying for this app. It comes with the new iPhone. I don't think there were many in line waiting overnight to purchase the new iPhone5 simply because it had a map app. They were there to get the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer.

    Kind of the same way that people don't pay for Windows since it comes free with a new computer?

    Saying that people don't purchase the phone to get the map app is the same as saying that people don't purchase the phone for Siri, or the high res screen, or the fast CPU, or the LTE connection - they buy the phone for the "whole package", and for many people, maps is part of that package.

    The whole reason I moved from my corporate issued Blackberry to my own personal smartphone was to get better mapping. The Blackberry was great for emails and for making phone calls and txts (my primary use of a smartphone), but the mapping app sucks, so even though the BB was completely free for me through work, I paid my own money for a better smartphone.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:39AM (#41488085) Homepage

    The difference is that Apple users are not paying for this app. It comes with the new iPhone.

    With Apple, you're paying for a hardware/software package. It's nuts to talk about it as if you're paying for the hardware and the software is free. You've paid for the software, and you have an expectation that it will be of a certain standard.

    Not everyone makes heavy use of maps, so this might not be a big deal for them. For me (on Android) maps is a huge proportion of what I use my phone for.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voidptr (609) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:43AM (#41488143) Homepage Journal

    They didn't start from scratch. There's plenty of press that they acquired at least 2 GIS companies since 2009, and it's fairly evident that they licensed data from TomTom as well.

  • by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:43AM (#41488147)

    Now run a comparison to Google's maps so we can see side by side.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m.ducharme (1082683) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:46AM (#41488193)

    Apple's been doing this with (some of) their software titles for years. This is nothing new to them at all. The only thing that's new is that expectations are higher for Apple now, and they can't release a product without the eyes of the world scrutinizing every tiny thing they do.

    Everyone's making a big deal about Apple Map software, but nobody seems to remember that Safari, iTunes, and a half-dozen other Apple applications are steaming piles of shit, and that to make a proper operating system, they had to buy one that was based on BSD. This isn't about Apple adopting a bad software dev strategy, it's about Apple's bad software dev strategy biting them in the ass for the first time.*

    *Disclosure and notice to the flame-warriors: I say these terrible things about Apple not because I'm an Apple hater, but because I've been using Apple products almost exclusively for many years now, and have much experience with Apple's flaws as well as its finer qualities.

  • Re:Where's Steve? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:52AM (#41488267)

    Really? That's funny, because when Cook started, AAPL was trading at ~$400; now it's trading at ~$700. If you think a 75% stock value increase in 12 months qualifies as a "major fuck up", then I'd like to know what stocks you're investing in.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rhsanborn (773855) on Friday September 28, 2012 @10:54AM (#41488295)
    This is absolutely not true. Jobs released a lot of dogs, and a lot of dogs that weren't ready. iCloud? Ping? iPhone 4 antenna? Please take off the rose colored glasses. This was a failure by Apple, absolutely. But let's not hearken to the good old days where no wrongs were made. They never existed.
  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:06AM (#41488489)

    "Team Google doesn't have all those wacky spy cars running around purely for their novelty value,"

    And now they can even run them driverless 24/7.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:17AM (#41488661)

    We've seen some humorous issues (though some of the things being stated as issues are actually made up [appleinsider.com]).

    But for every day things, most searches work right now. And Apple is shipping 3D maps on mobile while Google is not.

    Lastly, already Apple finds some things Google does not. It's like everyone is blind to the fact that Google has plenty of errors still. Apple with Yelp integration, is going to find most things today that people actually want found when doing a general search on a map. The high-level issues people are seeing should be cleared out in short order, probably more a matter of months than years. [flickr.com]

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Friday September 28, 2012 @11:48AM (#41489103) Homepage
    I agree that the maps app is a step backwards. But calling it "cutting customers' throats" is, you have to admit, a bit of hyperbole. I live in a mid-sized city, I've used iOS6 maps a half-dozen times in the last week, and it's been perfectly fine every time. I know anecdotes are not data, but I'd be willing to wager that for most people, in most areas, doing most searches, it's acceptable.

    Best ever? No. Flawless? Certainly not. As good as we've come to expect from iOS? Nope. But it's not cutting anyone's throat by any stretch of a sane imagination.
  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:45PM (#41489913)

    The whole reason I moved from my corporate issued Blackberry to my own personal smartphone was to get better mapping.

    First, since you say "smartphone" instead of "iPhone", shall we assume that you're an Android user, that this issue doesn't affect you and your comment about the mapping app sucks is based entirely on anecdotal data?

    When the CEO of Apple apologizes for the poor quality of their mapping app and recommends that dissapointed users download a different app, it's no longer "anecdotal data". This isn't a case of one guy saying "omg, I can't map my street! Apple maps suck!"

    The next question is, if you are indeed an iPhone user, then is your experience with the new maps app--as bad as it may be--better than or worse than the Blackberry experience you were trying to get away from? As a former Blackberry user myself, I'm going to guess it's still way way way better. iOS 6 maps are certainly a step backwards, so it's worth complaining about. But don't add to the argument that this application was the very reason you moved away from another platform that was and probably still is several orders of magnitude worse.

    I was careful to not say whether I moved to Android or iPhone, you made the (correct) assumption that it was Android, even if I moved to an iPhone 2 years ago, that doesn't change my basic point that maps are important to many people so a bad map implementation is worse than, say, not enough Fart applications.

    I chose Android for reasons other than mapping (at the time, IOS was using Google Maps), but if I were going to buy a Smartphone today, I'd rule out iPhone based on the mapping problems alone. The iPhone is a good phone and until the Android ICS release, I'd say that most consumers would be more satisfied with iPhone than Android, but now I see little overall usability difference.

  • Re:Bye Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday September 28, 2012 @03:13PM (#41492165) Journal

    Apple has never had free navigation so even a crappy app is better than what they had before.

    No, it isn't.

    Look, you can throw in all the 3D spinny effects/voice activation/turn-by-turn/traffic you want. If I say I want to go from point A to point B and the app comes back and says, "Sorry, I can't find point B," it is not better than what I had before.

    Like the Samsung commercial, Apple users are saying, "we'll get that fixed next time."

    The fanbois will always say that. These are people that you will not get, no matter what. 5% of the world are Apple lovers. 5% of the world are Apple haters. The other 90% fall somewhere in-between.

    Apple will survive and do quite well with their 5%. The problem is that to thrive and grow, Apple needs those other 90%. These aren't the people who say, "Look at the shiny Apple!" They expect things to "just work." When they don't, they'll look for something that does.

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