Apple is reported to be in “preliminary talks” with Foursquare as it explores a deal to bring the social network’s user data to its much-criticized maps service, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Talks are said to have taken place in “recent weeks” and involved Eddy Cue, who took over the management of Apple’s maps division during a recent executive reshuffle. The company is under more pressure after Google finally launched its standalone iOS maps app last week, seeing an impressive 10 million downloads in the first 48 hours.

There is no immediate suggestion of an acquisition and the Wall Street Journal hints that Apple is holding discussions with other map and content firms. That could corroborate past reports that the iPhone making is said to be talking to ‘outside mapping experts’ and ‘prodding’ mapping company TomTom NV to help it refine that data.

It’s no secret that Apple has been looking to enhance Apple Maps, which was released to largely negative reviews in September and continues to generate controversy, the most recent incident being an Australian police force warning that data errors within the service were putting travelers in “potentially life threatening positions.”

A deal to bring data from Foursquare to the tablet — which TNW’s Matthew Panzarino discussed in detail just last week after spotting a Foursquare check-in from Cue — would massively increase business listings and peer-generated details, many of which are missing on Apple’s product.

Foursquare actually announced a fairly significant refresh of its discovery features today; and we’ve long said it could work well with Siri.

The Maps affair reportedly resulted in the Apple SVP Cue firing Richard Williamson, the manager overseeing its mapping service. Apple CEO Tim Cook took the unique step of apologizing to users directly with an open letter that encouraged them to try mapping services from Google, Nokia, Waze and others.

In the letter, Cook says that Apple is “extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.” That was followed by an interview with Bloomberg in which Cook said that Apple has a “huge plan” to make its maps service even better, after admitting that it “screwed up.”

Scott Forstall, who formerly oversaw iOS development at Apple, is also rumored to have been discard as a result of the affair. The SVP was said to have been pushed out after refusing to sign the apology letter, which was eventually issued by CEO Tim Cook. Cue took charge of the maps division following Forstall’s abrupt departure, which was announced on October 29 and sees him exit in 2013.

Image via bfishadow / Flickr