Apple may have taken a strong stance on the environment, equal rights, and privacy, but it isn't taking an anti-abortion position. The iPhone maker came under fire after some Maps users reported seeing adoption centers instead of clinics and other health centers when using "abortion" as a search term. Those results weren't part of a conspiracy, just a search algorithm Apple is continually refining.
Apple Maps became big news after Fast Company called out the company for abortion-related search results. The publication said it performed searches in locations around San Francisco and was shown an adoption center outside the city instead of clinics providing abortion services.
Abortion search or gun search: both show accurate results in Apple Maps
The assumption many people jumped to was that Apple intentionally displayed adoption center locations instead of abortion-related results when users performed their searches. The actual issue is that Apple simply isn't as good as Google yet when it comes to mobile map searches.
Google has its own system and database for logging locations for its map search results. Apple, however, relies on partner companies for much of that same data. iOS 9's Nearby feature is supposed to show more relevant results based on your location, but in some cases it seems it still isn't up to the task.
Unfortunately, Apple has been unresponsive to people pointing out glaring search result errors. Incorrect abortion-related search results have been an ongoing problem for the company, too, adding to the frustration and belief that the company is using Maps to promote an agenda.
The real issue is that Apple still has work to do before Maps is completely on par with Google Maps. The company is working on improving the Maps experience, and told TechCrunch that it's working to update and improve search results.
Our sex toy search returned predicable results, but not so much for strip clubs
Apple has been working since 2011 to improve health-related search result accuracy, and it does seem to be improving—although not as quickly or transparently as some would like. Considering the efforts some groups will take to shame women who do seek abortion assistance, however, it would be nice for Apple to accelerate its efforts to improve related search results.
That said, it looks like Apple has already made some improvements and some areas didn't seem to be having issues at all. The Mac Observer's test searches in Boulder, for example, have consistently shown accurate results. Our test searches on guns, it turns out, were equally successful.
Branching out our searches showed some intersting results. Hunting for sex toys showed us there's about as many places to buy your intimate bedroom accessories as guns around Denver and Boulder, but a search for strip clubs showed us mostly restaurants in California. Maybe we found a new conspiracy: Apple wants us to eat steak instead of getting naked.
The real conspiracy here is one of silence, not a political or philosophical agenda. Apple Maps still has room for improvement, and this is one place where the company should be a little more transparent.