Australian police warn against using Apple Maps after incorrect data puts travelers in danger

Australian police warn against using Apple Maps after incorrect data puts travelers in danger

Police in the Australia state of Victoria have contacted Apple after incorrect information within its mobile mapping system put drivers heading to the small town of Mildura in “potentially life threatening” situations, as they were led to a national park some 70 kilometers off target.

The issue has caused some motorists to be stranded in the Murray-Sunset National Park, after taking directions from maps on their Apple device, leaving them stranded for up to 24 hours without food or water. Police say some travelers have been forced to walk long distances through “dangerous terrain” in order to get phone reception to make a call.

“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 on the force’s website read.

As a result, the Victoria Police are warning motorists to avoid following direction using the maps — which replaced Google Maps with Apple’s iOS 6 software update — while they have contacted the US company directly to request a change in the directions. ABC News reports that six people have been rescued from the park after being lost due to the incorrect information.

Apple’s maps came under fire almost immediately after being introduced, with many users bemoaning the inferior level or details and quality of the maps. The company is said to be talking to ‘outside mapping experts’ and ‘prodding’ mapping company TomTom NV to help it refine that data.

The Maps affair — which is complicated by the fact that Google is yet to release a standalone maps app for iOS — reportedly resulted in the Apple SVP Eddy Cue firing Richard Williamson, the manager overseeing its mapping service. Apple CEO Tim Cook took the unique step of apologizing to users directly with an open letter that encouraged them to try mapping services from Google, Nokia, Waze and others.

In the letter, Cook says that Apple is “extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.” That was followed by an interview with Bloomberg in which Cook said that Apple has a “huge plan” to make its maps service even better, after admitting that it “screwed up.”

Scott Forstall, who formerly oversaw iOS development at Apple, is also rumored to have been discard as a result of the affair. The SVP was said to have been pushed out after refusing to sign the apology letter, which was eventually issued by CEO Tim Cook. Cue took charge of the maps division following Forstall’s abrupt departure, which was announced on October 29 and sees him exit in 2013.

Nokia is among the competitors to have stepped up its effort on iOS maps, and the Finnish company launched its new Here Maps for the Apple platform in November.

RelatedApple’s responsibility for the state of Maps

Headline image via Sean Gallup/Getty Images 

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