Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook apologized Friday to customers for the company’s deeply flawed iPhone mapping software and encouraged users to seek out alternatives from rivals such as Microsoft and Google.

Cook posted a letterto the company’s website saying he was “extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers.” He said Apple’s Maps app “fell short” of the company’s high standards and promised to make it better.

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like (Microsoft’s) Bing, AOL’s 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 wrote.

Apple replaced Google’s Maps app on its iPhone with the release of its iOS 6 operating system on Sept. 19.

But reports quickly surfaced that Apple Maps app was seriously flawed, giving out wrong directions and incorrectly locating cities, addresses and points of interest.

Also, its 3D visualization feature also has turned cities into brutal hell-scapes with melting buildings and roads and missing monuments and bridges.

Apple reportedly dumped Google Maps as its default mapping software because Google refused to include spoken turn-by-turn directions and other features it offers in its maps app on its own Android smartphones, AllThingsD reported. Google is working on a downloadable version of its maps software for Apple’s App Store, but a release time is uncertain, according to The Verge. Comments made by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt on Tuesday, in Beijing, implied the company had not yet submitted a Google Maps app to Apple, contrary to what some analysts had said.

“This was a real classic, good apology. No excuses,” Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, told IBD. “It’s a better apology than (Apple co-founder Steve) Jobs made over the years.”

Apple is doing all the right things — it acknowledged the problem and the inconvenience it caused for users, offered alternatives and promised to make it better, Gottheil says.

“People can’t claim that Apple dealt with this arrogantly and denied it had a problem,” he said.

Apple should have labeled its Maps app as a beta, or test product, just as it’s doing with its Siri personal assistant software, Gottheil says.

“They made a mistake,” he said. “They should have tested this product more extensively and withheld it until it was good enough.”