Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Apple Maps “life-threatening”, Aussie police warn

Police in Australia have warned that Apple's much criticised mapping application could not only get you lost, it could get you killed.

Motorists trying to find the south-eastern town of Mildura have found themselves lost after following the map system, which locates it around 70km from its actual position. Being lost is one thing, but in parts of Australia it can be a matter of life and death. Distances between one town and another can be vast and if motorists are not careful they can easily become stranded
and lost in the wilderness in scorching temperatures.


One man was stranded for 24 hours in temperatures of up to 46°C, and at least three more have had to be rescued, police said. Tests on the Apple mapping system showed Mildura as incorrectly placed in the middle of the Murray Sunset National Park and prompted the Mildura police to issue a warning on their website.

"Police are extremely concerned as there is no water supply within the park and temperatures can reach as high as 46 degrees, making this a potentially life-threatening issue," the statement said. "Some of the motorists located by police have been stranded for up to 24 hours without food or water and have walked long distances through dangerous terrain to get phone reception."

Mistake corrected

Apple say they have now corrected the mistake, though many motorists in Australia may not feel quite as confident at using the mapping application again. Apple claims it is working hard to fix problems on its maps, which it introduced in September after dumping Google maps.

War with Google

Apple has long been in conflict with Google. Former CEO Steve Jobs, who died last year, claimed the Android operating system was a "stolen product" and fought a long battle against the search giant and its partners. While Apple's dumping of the Google application was likely an attempt to rid itself of another tie to Google, it  has also been reported that there was disagreement between the two companies over the licensing of turn-by-turn directions in the mapping app [CNET].

Google are said to have want branding displayed, something that would have sat uncomfortably in the Apple camp. Nonetheless, the dropping of Google Maps has brought embarrassment to Apple which has long prided itself with perfection in its products. In October, chief executive Tim Cook issued a public apology for the poor quality of the maps [Guardian].


The debacle that is Apple Maps has resulted in more than embarrassing apologies however. Soon after Cook's statement the head of the iOS 6 software group, Scott Forstall was fired, and only days later the head of the mapping group was also reported to have been sacked. Fortunately the list of victims has not extended to anything more than sackings.

More reports: BBC / Sky / Telegraph / Guardian / Sun / Daily Mail / CNET video / SMH

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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