December 10, 2012
Australian Police Warn Motorists About Apple Maps
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It´s the kind of news story Apple (or any company) had been hoping to avoid. iOS 6, Apple´s mobile operating system, shipped with a new Maps application which used Apple´s own blend of cartographic data.
Within hours of its public release, users all over the world began to criticize these maps as faulty and inaccurate. Apple has since been making very transparent moves to improve the maps, including firing the executive and managers responsible and allowing users to submit problems with the mapping data. Tim Cook, Apple´s CEO apologized for the matter, offering up a few suggestions for some other apps to try.
Now, Apple is once again losing fans in Australia as local police have warned drivers about Apple Maps, saying this piece of software could leave you stranded in the harsh heat of the wilderness without water.
As the story goes, several motorists have used Apple´s Maps to travel to the city of Mildura. The application, however, places Mildura in the middle of Murray-Sunset National Park, which is about 40 miles southeast of its actual location.
As iPhone´s Maps also allows for offline caching of map data, these drivers likely continued to use the same bad info even when they run out of cell coverage. These drivers end up stranded looking for gas or help and, according to the police report, have even been stuck for more than 24 hours without food and water.
Local police have said at least 5 vehicles have been stranded in the park, blaming them all on Apple´s Maps.
With the lack of water and extreme high heat, officials are saying this is a life-threatening issue and are urging motorists to use another brand of mapping data until Apple addresses this issue.
"If it was a 45-degree day, (113 Fahrenheit) someone could actually die," said Simon Clemence, Mildura´s Local Area Commander Inspector, speaking to local broadcaster ABC.
"One guy got far enough in to lose phone coverage and he was stuck there and he got bogged and he had to walk out and it took him 24 hours to get to a point where he had phone coverage and then we came and rescued him.”
Police have also contacted Apple about these misdirections and say they hope the issue will be resolved soon, thereby protecting the motorists of Mildura.
The entire saga of Apple´s Maps has even reached out further than the usual Tech News circles, finding headlines on the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. It´s likely those who aren´t tech savvy have heard of “Apple´s Bad Maps.” Even more unfortunate, while the new Maps does have its missing features and significant faults, they are at their worst in rural areas, particularly outside of America.
In Apple´s Maps, the location surrounding Mildura is shaded in different colors, most often grey. This usually happens when there is little or insufficient data to draw out a full color satellite representation of the area.
Though Apple appears to be doing all they can to improve Maps quickly, this debacle will no doubt serve to add more criticism to one of their worst blunders to date.