Is Apple Maps Actually Dangerous?

There's been no shortage of criticism for Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) new Maps app; everything from strange 3D renderings of the Brooklyn Bridge to areas of the world only available in black and white. Now there's another big one to add to that list: Apple Maps could kill you.

That's according to an Australian police bulletin, after local authorities had to rescue some stranded motorists that were lost in Murray-Sunset National Park. The travelers were trying to reach the city of Mildura, which Apple's app evidently believes is located in the middle of the aforementioned national park. Apple is about 70 kilometers (approximately 43 miles) off target.

Source: Screenshot from author's device. Actual destination shown in red square. Emphasis added.

Since the park has no water supply and temperatures reach highs of 46 degrees Celsius (nearly 115 degrees Fahrenheit), Australian authorities consider this a "potentially life threatening issue." Like many national parks, cell reception is sparse or nonexistent, and some stranded iPhone users went up to 24 hours with no food or water and had to walk through treacherous terrain searching for cell reception. Fortunately, no one has actually died from the misdirection.

While the story lends to juicy headlines (see above), it's worth noting that these types of things happen with almost all mapping systems. Even the Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Maps offering that Apple just ditched has had some similar tarnishes on its reputation.

Way back in 2009 when Google Maps' walking directions were in beta, they directed a female traveler to stroll on the side of a rural highway with no sidewalks. She was subsequently hit by a car, survived, and then filed suit against Big G for leading her astray. Common sense aside, travelers are best advised not to walk on highways, even if Google tells you to.

A couple of years before that, Google also had some problems with Australian directions very shortly after its launch Down  Under. Travelers looking to walk from a hotel to Google's local headquarters, which was directly across the street, were instructed to hop in a car and drive for 20 minutes. That trek wouldn't be life threatening, but certainly a waste of time.

There have been other stories out there, like a man drowning after his GPS directed him to drive into a lake, and there will be more in the future. Apple Maps is suffering from problems most mapping services see in their early days. Even Google's been there, done that.

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Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (2)

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  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2012, at 2:48 AM, AussieMac wrote:

    Also if people are relying on Maps in Australia's Country areas I think the 95% of Australia Telstra challenge is on.. Telstra means 95% of POPULATED areas.. not by geographical area I know when we travelled across the north of the state of Victoria 3G signals were few and far between literally. However TomTom which uses GPS on stored maps was perfect. So I suspect that no-one in their right mind would rely on Apple Maps for long country journeys in spartan country not withstanding the data usage too and refresh rates with weak signals. I suspect the story is concocted or enhanced to say the least.. Probably to cover the stupidity of the person who didn't follow road signs and got lost and had to call the police. Its not like road signs in the Australian country are leaping up everywhere in great quantities..

    It should also be noted that if you actually go to an address in Mildura such as Sturt Highway, Mildura Apple Maps is SPOT-ON and probably a more recent map than Google's

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2012, at 8:30 AM, pondee619 wrote:

    "like a man drowning after his GPS directed him to drive into a lake". Was he blind or just not paying any attention to where he was driving? Perhaps, he thought it would be a good idea to follow the directions to the letter, drive into the lake and sue Google. I'll grant you that the idea, if real, turned out very poorly

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2012, at 8:53 AM, chopchop0 wrote:

    Apple had the option of sticking with a tried and tested product, Google maps.

    Instead, to keep their stranglehold on their closed ecosystem, they elected to start this endeavor from the ground up, and release an unfinished beta product to their "customers"

  • Report this Comment On December 13, 2012, at 11:05 AM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    Apple Maps; Apple fans; Metropolis; do you see the connection?

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