Apple's Australian maps mishap linked to local data

The bad directions that led some travelers to a remote desert instead of a local town has been linked back to a local database.

The directions disclaimer put up yesterday by police in Victoria.
The directions disclaimer put up yesterday by police in Victoria. Victoria Police

The bad directions issue that led local police in Australia to steer motorists away from Apple's Maps app may not entirely be the iPhone maker's fault.

Apparently there are two listings for the same problematic location in the Australian Gazetteer, the de facto local geographical dictionary that lists some 322,000 locations and their corresponding GPS coordinates.

As reported by The Register, this resulted in two possible results for "Mildura" -- one of which was located in remote wilderness more than 40 miles away from the town of the same name. People were reportedly getting stranded in that wilderness area after following Apple Maps directions.

The problem in question was quietly fixed yesterday, notes The Guardian, and now directs users to the town of Mildura instead of a location outside the not-so-nearby Murray-Sunset National Park.

Apple's maps software was released in September as part of iOS 6 as a replacement to Google Maps. Users with devices on iOS 5 and below continue to use software that sources information from Google. Apple gets its own mapping data from a variety of sources, including TomTom, Waze, Yelp, and NASA. Data from the Australian Gazetteer comes from various local government agencies and is managed by the country's federal government.

After user complaints and some negative press about the software,Apple apologized for its quality and pledged to make improvements. There have already been signs of progress, like updated 3D and satellite imagery and corrections to location database information. Unlike rival Google, Apple hasn't alerted users to these changes, making progress harder to track.

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