December 11, 2012
After Mildura Blunder, Apple Redraws Australian Maps
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
In truth, there are worse situations than having the words “Life Threatening” associated with your company´s product...but not many.
Yesterday, Apple´s Maps (already a bruise on Apple´s reputation) was called out for threatening the lives of Australian motorists who make the trek to Mildura.
Ever since iOS 6 and Apple´s new Maps were released, local police officials noticed a trend in stranded motorists and their smartphones of choice, saying iPhones were responsible in stranding these Aussies in a dangerous and harsh wilderness.
Apple responded quickly to these claims, redrawing the location of Mildura away from the middle of Murray-Sunset National Park and back where it belongs.
Apple hasn´t publicly acknowledged this issue, choosing instead to quietly redraw the map and hope news of the fix spreads as quickly as news of the mistake.
The Victoria Police posted an alert yesterday which started this week´s Map mess, calling the mapping application of Apple´s I-phone (sic) “Life Threatening” after several motorists were stranded in Murray-Sunset National Park.
"We've had at least four documented cases," explained senior sergeant Stephen Phelan, speaking to the Guardian before Apple fixed the issue.
"The map puts it (Mildura) at least 70 kilometers (45 miles) from where it should be. We have had people bogged down in Sunset country."
Apple´s Maps may have been responsible for a sequence of errors which ends with these motorists being stranded in the middle of the desert with little to no cell phone reception or access to water.
Motorists making the drive to Mildura would see the city represented some 40 miles away from its actual location. These drivers would then end up somewhere in the middle of Murray-Sunset and begin trying to figure out just where they went wrong in their directions.
As they drive through the park, they begin to lose cell phone reception.
Apple´s Maps allows for offline caching of maps, which means when reception is low, users can still access these data.
Unfortunately for motorists in Australia, they were still using incorrect mapping data. This led to some ditching their cars and looking for help, reception, or just water.
“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.”
Apple´s new Maps have given the tech-set (and those that love them) plenty to poke fun at since its release a few months ago. Web sites were created solely to point out the shortcomings of these maps and town leaders chastised the Cupertino company for placing entire airfields where airfields had never been before.
The new Maps was also released without a few features iPhone users had grown accustomed to in the days when Apple was using Google´s mapping data, such as Street View and public transit details.
However, no matter how bad Apple´s Maps had been at release (and it was quite bad) it had yet to pose a real threat to people´s lives.