Dowling is the third executive from Apple's leadership team to step down this year. The company's retail boss Angela Ahrendts announced her departure in February. And Apple's legendary design boss Jony Ive resigned in June. All three executives were members of Apple's leadership team, reporting to CEO Tim Cook.
According to an internal memo Dowling sent to staff that was obtained by Recode, Apple's head of marketing Phil Schiller will be the interim manager of the PR team.
"Steve Dowling has been dedicated to Apple for more than 16 years and has contributed to the company at every level through many of its most significant moments," Apple said in a statement.
"From the first iPhone and App Store to Apple Watch and AirPods, he has helped tell Apple's story and share our values with the world. Following another successful product launch, he has decided to leave Apple to spend some much deserved time with his family. He leaves behind a tremendous legacy that will serve the company well into the future. We're grateful to him for all that he's given to Apple and wish him the best," Apple's statement said.
Dowling's departure comes as Apple is also facing increased antitrust scrutiny like the rest of its Big Tech peers. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee asked Apple to turn over documents related to how it promotes and sells apps in the App Store as part of an antitrust probe. Facebook, Google and Amazon were also asked to hand over documents and internal communications as part of the probe.
Dowling previously worked as a journalist for CNBC before joining Apple.
--CNBC's Josh Lipton contributed to this report.