Apple maps strand drivers in Australia

11 December 2012
By Rachael Fergusson
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Apple’s troubled iPhone mapping software has led drivers astray in Australia.

Australian police have warned that Apple’s mapping application is stranding drivers headed to the southern city of Mildura. Victoria state police said an error in Apple's maps service places the city of Mildura about 44 miles away in the Murray-Sunset National Park, which is a desert-like 1,900 square mile region with scorching temperatures and virtually no mobile phone reception.

Police said they had been forced to rescue a number of motorists who had become stuck for up to 24 hours "without food or water".

Mildura police inspector Simon Clemence said at least six vehicles had become stuck on the desert park's sandy tracks after being directed by the iOS mapping system.

"These people have still been rescuable. But we've just had a 46C day (115 degrees f). If they were out there in that temperature and out of phone range, they would have been in serious trouble," he said.

Clemence said police had contacted Apple over the issue. But while Apple had now rectified Mildura's location for people travelling from South Australia, motorists seeking directions from Melbourne city were still being directed off course.

"If you punch in Melbourne to Mildura, it still puts you in the middle of the park," he said. "So they've got it half right."

Police said people should not blindly rely on technology to get them to their location, although in fairness he said people could easily become misdirected over long stretches of road along the 377-km Mallee highway.

"There's nothing to signpost, and people are just driving and driving when their GPS phone suddenly says turn," Clemence said.

"But anyone who has used a GPS would know, they all make mistakes. You have to use your common sense and your eyes, and if it doesn't look right, then it probably isn't right."

Apple's chief executive Tim Cook apologised to customers in September for problems with the new mobile mapping application and suggested they use a rival product from Google until the multitude of errors could be ironed out.

Apple also sacked the executive behind the mapping software, and handed responsibility for hardware and software design to the company's industrial design guru Jonathan Ive.

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