Australian police are discouraging the use of the Apple iOS map app after several people were stranded in the Australian wilderness by following the app’s directions. In one case, the motorists were stranded for 24 hours without adequate amounts of food and water.
Police in Victoria, Australia have had to assist distressed motorists who found themselves lost in what the police described as “potentially life threatening” situations. Travelers heading to Mildura, Australia found themselves in the middle of Murray-Sunset National Park, the second-largest national park in Australia that also happens to be nearly fifty miles away from Mildura.
“We’ve had at least four documented cases,” senior sergeant Stephen Phelan was quoted as saying on Monday in the Guardian UK, before Apple made the update. “The map puts it at least 70 kilometers (45 miles) from where it should be. We have had people bogged down in Sunset country.”
“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. “Police are extremely concerned as there is no water supply within the Park and temperatures can reach as high as 46 degrees [Celsius, roughly 115 degrees Fahrenheit], making this a potentially life threatening issue.”
“Anyone travelling to Mildura or other locations within Victoria should rely on other forms of mapping until this matter is rectified,” was the conclusion of the police statement.
Since the police statements became public earlier Monday, Apple has updated the location of Mildura.
Apple’s new map has been the source for a lot of consumer ire since it was added in September 2012 at the expense of Google Maps which had been available for iOS in the past. Apple dropped Google Maps after the search engine giant refused to add turn-by-turn directions for Apple users.
Since its launch the program has been plagued with glitches. On launch date, European users reported that the app replaced London with Ontario, Paddington station had vanished, the Sears Tower shrunk, and Dublin gained a new airport. Police in Australia also noted that scenarios of people getting lost on the way to Mildura began after the introduction of the new map app.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly apologized for the map issues in the past and has promised improvements. Google, for its part, is said to be nearing a Google Maps submission for iOS 6.
American users can worry less about their excursion to a national park. According to Wired, the National Parks Service hasn’t heard of people getting lost because of Maps or other GPS-based mapping apps. Wired spoke to John Quinley with the Alaska National Parks who said so far, so good.
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