This is one of the first times Tim Cook has been forced to make a statement like this, and he strikes a different tone than Jobs. For example, Jobs' "apology" for reported iPhone 4 reception issues was, in fact, more of a corrective blog post.
It started with an admission, but not the one you were expecting:
To start with, gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones...
...Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong.
It then ended, characteristically, with a much larger denial:
We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same— the iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped.
Cook's note feels different, perhaps because there's no plausible way to deny Apple's critics' premise: that iOS 6 maps are significantly worse than Google Maps at telling you where things are.