Apple’s new iOS 6 Maps has been called inaccurate, inefficient and “almost unusably bad” in the three months since its debut, but now it appears the application could be life-threatening.
Australian authorities are urging motorists to use anything but Apple Maps to get around the Outback after the app left several people stranded in the searing desert, a mistake police called a “potentially life-threatening issue.”
That’s according to police in Mildura, Australia, who issued the startling warning after having to rescue several people who were stranded without food or water after attempting to find the town of 30,000.
Mildura, whose previous claim to fame was the ill-fated Nowingi toxic waste scheme (proposed in 2004, defeated in 2007), suddenly found itself the focus of international media interest over the latest example of Apple’s calamitous move into mapping.
Several motorists have had to be saved by police from the park, which police say has no water supply and where temperatures can reach a blistering 46 degrees Celsius (114 Fahrenheit).
It’s a potentially deadly mistake, as the location is in the middle of nowhere. Getting lost near Mildura is dangerous.
“Tests on the mapping system by police confirm the mapping systems lists Mildura in the middle of the Murray Sunset National Park, approximately 70km away from the actual location of Mildura,” police said in a statement.
One man following the map on his phone had driven into the park at 6pm, three hours before it got dark, then realised he was nowhere near Mildura, but that to continue driving could get him stuck because of the sand on and around the road, the Guardian writes.
Police have contacted Apple in relation to the issue and hope the matter is rectified promptly to ensure the safety of motorists travelling to Mildura.
Anyone travelling to Mildura or other locations within Victoria should rely on other forms of mapping until this matter is rectified.
Apple spokesman Adam Howorth would not comment on the Australian police allegations, but told CNN that Apple is “working hard to fix Maps.
CNN tested other mapping systems, including Google Maps, which were able to correctly pinpoint Mildura’s location.
Victoria police said they had not encountered any problems with older versions of Apple Maps.
Apple Maps, which replaced the Google Maps app on Apple mobile devices when the tech giant released its iOS 6 platform in September, has been widely panned by critics and users alike.
It has been such a PR disaster that Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized for the debacle and several people have been fired, including iOS chief Scott Forstall and Maps product manager Rich Williamson.
The Wired reports that Australia isn’t alone in seeing problems with Apple Maps. In the U.K., for example, angry users reported a multitude of issues like a nonexistent airport and black and white satellite imagery. So far the app hasn’t caused widespread problems for motorists or hikers in the United States.
The National Parks Service told Wired it hasn’t heard of people getting lost because of Maps or other GPS-based mapping apps. It’s the same story far to the north in Alaska, where John Quinley with the Alaska National Parks said so far, so good.