Apple CEO Tim Cook has issued a public apology for the company’s widely criticised iOS 6 Maps app, suggesting that iPad, iPhone and iPad owners should download competing map apps or use Google’s web app while Apple improves its offering.

The letter was published on Apple’s homepage on Friday, just over a week after iOS 6 was launched on 19 September.

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers,” writes Cook. “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,” he continues.

Cook explains that Apple needed to build a new Maps app from the ground up in order to provide features such as turn-by-turn directions and Flyover.

“There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps,” Cook says. “In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations.”

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading maps 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 says. The letter even links to an Apple how-to which shows users how to add Google and Nokia maps web app icons to the Home screen of your iOS 6 device.  (Last week, we wrote an article explaining how to do this too).

Cook promises that Apple will continue to keep working on Maps until it “lives up to the same incredibly high standard” that customers have come to expect from the company.

This isn't the first time an Apple CEO has published an apology on the company's website. Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs wrote several apologies during his time at Apple, about subjects including the lack of Adobe Flash on iOS devices, digital rights management on music, and environmental issues.

See also:

Apple admits Maps is 'no one's issue but ours'
iOS 6 Maps app fails to impress, users want Google Maps back
Steve Wozniak ‘disappointed’ with Apple’s iOS 6 Maps app
How to report problems in iOS 6’s Maps