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December 10, 2012

Apple Maps a danger to life, say Australian police

People are getting lost in the desert after mapping software gives wrong location for town

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Apple Maps
Apple Maps pointing to Mildura… sort of. Credit: Victoria Police

More bad news for Apple Maps – a police force in Australia is warning against using the software after a number of people became stranded while trying to find a town called Mildura in Victoria.

The police force there has had to rescue people who have wound up lost in the desert after following the directions from Apple Maps. The software directs people to a point around 70km away from the centre of the actual town. In the image above the red pin is where Apple Maps is directing people, while the purple pin represents its actual location.

One Apple user spent 24 hours stranded in the Murray Sunset National Park without food or water in incredibly high temperatures, the police said.

"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," a 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."

Users looking for the town should use alternative directions until the problem is fixed, the police force said in a statement.

Although previous issues with Apple’s mapping may have seemed light-hearted, such as towns misnamed and famous landmarks missing or in the wrong location, this is potentially a very serious issue, which could leave Apple open to expensive lawsuits.

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Apple introduced its own mapping software with iOS 6, the latest version of its mobile OS running on iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch range. Previously the devices had been using Google’s far superior mapping technology.

The maps disaster has already had repercussions for Apple. Head of iOS development Scott Forstall was sacked not long after the release of iOS 6, while Richard Williamson was also reported to have been fired.

The Maps issues also forced Apple to do something it really likes to do publicly – admit it was wrong and say sorry. "We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better," said Cook.

He added that customers should use an alternative mapping application until it had resolved the problems.

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