Apple Maps Use Discouraged by Australian Police

More woes for Apple’s in-house mapping application as Australian police warn its lack of accuracy could be life threatening to some users.

Despite the sales success and glowing reviews bestowed upon Apple’s iPhone 5 handset, the company’s in-house maps application designed for the iOS 6 operating system was the subject of widespread derision for its inaccuracy and lack of functionality when compared to Google Maps. Now, however, the application’s faults have become life threatening in the eyes of some Australian police officials.

Police in Mildura, a city in northwestern Victoria several hundred miles from the coast, are urging motorists to be careful when relying on the mapping app on iPhones operating on the iOS 6 operating system following reports from a number of motorists who were directed “off the beaten track” in recent weeks. Local police were called to assist distressed motorists who became stranded within the Murray-Sunset National Park after following directions provided by the application.

Tests on the mapping system by police confirm the mapping systems lists Mildura in the middle of the Murray Sunset National Park, approximately 43.5 miles away from the actual location of Mildura. Police said they are “extremely concerned” as there is no water supply within the Park and temperatures can reach as high as 114 degrees, making this a potentially life threatening issue. A Mildura police department statement urged anyone traveling to Mildura or other locations within Victoria to rely on other forms of mapping until the matter is rectified.

“Some of the motorists located by police have been stranded for up to 24 hours without food or water and have walked long distances through dangerous terrain to get phone reception, the statement read. “Police have contacted Apple in relation to the issue and hope the matter is rectified promptly to ensure the safety of motorists traveling to Mildura.”

The Maps debacle was the biggest misstep by Apple in recent memory and resulted in a rare public apology by company CEO Tim Cook and ultimately led to a restructuring of the company’s management. Richard Williamson, who managed the team that developed the application, was fired by senior vice president Eddy Cue, according to a Nov. 27 report in Bloomberg.

According to "people familiar with the move," Williamson's dismissal is part of a larger effort by Cue to address the problems that arose following the very public failure of the app, which debuted in September. The problems with the mapping app also led to the eventual dismissal of Scott Forstall, a top software executive at Apple who refused to sign onto Apple's apology, arguing that Apple could fix the issue without issuing an apology, as the company had done in the past when it had released iPhones with antenna problems.

In a rare television interview last week with Brian Williams of NBC News, the report asked Cook how big of a setback the Maps flap was. “It didn’t meet our customers’ expectations, it didn’t meet our expectations of ourselves which are even higher than our customers,” Cook responded. “However, I can tell you—we screwed up, and we are putting the weight of the company behind correcting it.”