Apple Fixes ‘Potentially Life Threatening’ Australian Maps Problem

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Apple has fixed an error in the Australian version of its Maps service for iOS that Aussie police had warned was "potentially life threatening." Apple updated Maps with the proper location of a town called Mildura after reports of the problem spread on Monday, according to The Guardian (UK).

You are here, no really!

You are here, no really!

Apple Maps has been criticized for problems since its release, with users finding navigation problems, landmark mistakes, and other issues in the service. Those criticisms prompted CEO Tim Cook to apologize for the problems and contributed to a major reorganization of Apple's top executives and the ouster of former iOS chief Scott Forstall.

Apple has been busily improving the service since then, but on Monday a far more dangerous mistake came to light. Australian police said that they had rescued four different parties who had been stranded in Murray-Sunset National Park, which is hot bush country without food or water, following Apple Maps directions to the city of Mildura. Apple Maps was showing the town 70 kilometers (45 miles) from where it actually is.

So concerned were they, Mildura police issued a statement urging, "motorists to be careful when relying on [Apple Maps]." That problem is now fixed, but the hit to Apple Maps' reputation has already been made.

Image made with help from Shutterstock.

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A lot of the early criticism leveled against Apple Maps has been much ado about little. This one, though, leading people into the Australian bush, was serious. One motorist was stranded for 24 hours before the police reached him—potentially life threatening is not an exaggeration.

If Apple wants to be a real Maps player, it needs to get very serious indeed about devoting world-class resources into making it reliable. Apple let Google have a multi-year headstart, mismanaged the transition, and is now going to have to work ten times as hard to gain a reputation for being reliable. That process is going to take many years, and this situation just added to that sentence.

Let's simply hope there are no more problems of this magnitude in the service.

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Comments

furbies

What I don’t understand is, with all the “bad press” about the Apple Maps app, surely folks would use the Apple Maps directions with a large pinch of salt, and take notice of the road signs and go, Ok Maps says to go this way, but the road signs say different…

Just my AUD$0.02 cents worth.

Greg

The Mildura, VIC, Australia maps problems has not been fixed. The Apple Maps app still leads you to the National Park.

Tony

The fix only works for those travelling from South Australia, those travelling from other states apparently still have the problem. Apple have taken their information from the Australian Gazeteer (a government source) which has an entry for “Mildura Rural City” at that location.

Bryan Chaffin

Thanks for the insight, gentlemen. It’s much appreciated.

mrmwebmax

+

Is anyone here as amazed as me that no class action suits have been filed? Or have their been?

Tony

Further to my previous comment, I since have read elsewhere that the point marked is actually the centre of the Mildura region.

craigf

Because of Appleā€™s high profile, it will be pilloried for every turn by turn GPS screwup, large or small, funny or not. But of course this problem is hardly new or unique to Apple. Examples are not hard to find on the net. Herewith, a few:

http://www.npr.org/2011/07/26/137646147/the-gps-a-fatally-misleading-travel-companion
http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/death-gps-could-it-happen-you-125321
http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/12/28/trust-issues-with-your-gps-youre-not-alone-in-the-woods/
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/hunters-find-body-missing-man-died-walking-wilderness-article-1.1172600

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