Apple's Maps app slammed over missing cities and other mistakes

Lost in place: The new app for iOS 6 is already under fire for mislabeling or excluding cities and landmarks around the world.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read
Duplicating an entire island is just one of the mistakes Apple made in the new Maps app.
Duplicating an entire island is just one of the mistakes Apple made in the new Maps app. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Released just yesterday as part of iOS 6, Apple's new Maps app is already facing criticism around the world over a slew of geographic errors.

The app has been faulted for misidentifying cities, using incorrect icons, and even failing to display certain locations. Many of the complaints so far seem to be coming from Europe.

For instance, Irish Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has asked Apple to remove the airline icon for Airfield House. The problem? Airfield House is not an airport but a farm, according to Ireland's Breaking News. Shatter may be worried that pilots relying on Maps may think the spot is an airport and end up landing on a bunch of cows and pigs.

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Of course, one would hope a pilot would use a better navigation system than the one included on an iPhone. But the concern is still valid, especially if a pilot runs into equipment failure or needs to make an emergency landing.

Several locations in the U.K. have been moved or are missing from the app, reports the BBC News.

Stratford-upon-Avon and Solihull are both nowhere to be found. The town of Uckfield in East Sussex is in the wrong location. Certain schools are missing, while the app apparently placed a furniture museum in a river. Satellite images of different locations, including ones in Scotland, are covered by clouds.

Users in Asia aren't happy either. Some have complained of poor quality in the level of details, while others say the app doesn't show train station exits, according to Japanese blog site Japan Mobile Tech.

One Twitter user pointed out that the app has also created two instances of the Senkaku, or Diaoyu, Islands. Japan and China have been fighting over ownership of that territory, leading the tweeter to quip that Apple may be trying to broker a deal by creating two versions of the islands.

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Some Web sites, such as the Huffington Post, have already created lists of the worst or funniest mistakes found in the app. And a Tumblr page keeps growing with examples of "Amazing iOS 6 Maps."

Apple created the app, but it didn't generate the actual data. Tom Tom was responsible for producing the data itself. But the GPS maker seemed eager to deflect any criticism, telling the BBC that it was "confident" about its map quality.

A spokesman for Tom Tom also sent CNET the following statement:

We supply maps and related content to the majority of handheld players, including RIM, HTC, Samsung, AOL (MapQuest Mobile), Apple and, yes, Google (for the areas where they don't make their own maps). When people use a map, their experience is determined by two things. Firstly, the underlying content, notably the maps. This is what TomTom is currently supplying the mobile industry with and it is what gives their maps the best foundation. Secondly, user experience is determined by adding additional features to the map application, such as visual imagery. This is typically defined and created by the handset manufacturers and third-party software providers on the basis of their own vision and needs.

It's not uncommon for a brand-new app to be rough around the edges. But these mistakes point to a major flaw in the Maps app.

And it's especially embarrassing for Apple since the company had been heavily touting the app, seeing it as a worthy replacement for Google Maps.

CNET contacted Apple for comment and will update the story if we receive more information.

For you iOS 6 upgraders, have you found any mistakes in the Maps app? Let us know in the comments below.

Updated 10:15 a.m. PT with statement from Tom Tom.