APPLE’S chief executive Tim Cook has issued a public apology for omissions and errors in his firm's new Maps app for the iPhone.
Introduced earlier this month to a chorus of criticism and ridicule, Apple Maps often displays shops and restaurants streets away from their true location, important sites including some railway stations are missing, and the search function did not understand many simple requests. Satellite images are less sharp and completely clouded over in places.
In Ireland, the Maps app suggested Dublin Zoo was located in Temple Bar and that there was an airfield in the middle of Rathfarnham in Dublin.
"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," said Mr Cook in a letter posted on the Apple website.
"We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."
He even encouraged frustrated iPhone users, who lost the Google Maps app when they updated to iOS6, to use web-based offerings from rivals until Apple Maps improves.
"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," said Mr Cook.
Apple introduced Google Maps on the first iPhone in 2007, but as the firms' smartphone rivalry intensified, it began work on an in-house alternative. Its introduction, days before the retail launch of the iPhone 5, proved a major embarrassment however, with critics accusing Apple of putting a commercial battle ahead of the interests of its customers by imposing software that was not ready.
Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, teased his rival this week on a tour of Asia.
"We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know," he said.
It has been reported that Apple decided to introduce its Maps app after negotiations with Google broke down over branding and new features that had been introduced to Android handsets but not the iPhone.
The pressure on Apple to respond to criticism of its Maps application peaked earlier this week when the New York Times dismissed it as "appalling first release". David Pogue, the New York Times technology writer, wrote: "It may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever unleashed."
Apple is sensitive to criticism from high-profile US newspapers. In 2008, when the company's MobileMe service was criticised by the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, Steve Jobs told his team: "Mossberg, our friend, is no longer writing good things about us."
Following "Antennagate", a controversy surrounding signal problems with the iPhone 4, Mr Jobs, who died last year, issued a rare public apology in an off-the-cuff remark.
By Christopher Williams Telegraph.co.uk