Australia police discourage use of Apple maps app after rescues

Police say they have rescued a half-dozen motorists in recent weeks who were using the app to navigate to a city only to find themselves stranded in the wilderness of a national park.

Apple recognized a few months ago that its iOS map app was so inefficient that it encouraged use of competing apps. Now police in Australia are suggesting that such a move might save the lives of motorists Down Under.

Police in Victoria, Australia, issued a warning Monday discouraging iPhone users from relying on Apple's map app after rescuing several people who became stranded in recent weeks in the wilderness following the app's directions -- some who were stranded 24 hours without adequate food and water.

Police said they rescued six motorists who were stranded following Apple's directions to reach an inland city were instead being directed to a national park -- some 43 miles from their desired destination.

"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," the police concluded.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Apple ignited consumer fervor in September when it opted to dump Google Maps from iOS 6, forcing users to switch to Apple's app, which many users found to be underwhelming or inaccurate when compared with Google's offering.

The firestorm prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to publicly apologize for the software and to promise improvements. The ouster of iOS software chief Scott Forstall was said to be linked to Cook's apology and Forstall's unwillingness to sign it. Richard Williamson, who was in charge of the company's maps software for iOS, was also reportedly fired .

 

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