Apple Maps error called ‘potentially life threatening’ by Australian police

December 10, 2012

The police in Victoria, Australia, issued a statement late Sunday warning motorists driving to the city of Mildura that they should not rely on directions from the Apple Maps program that comes standard with the company’s latest operating system.

According to the statement, Apple’s maps program mistakenly places Mildura in the middle of the Murray Sunset National Park — about 43.5 miles away from its real location.

Police have received calls from motorists who have been stranded in the park without adequate food and water for as long as 24 hours. The park does not have a water supply, police said. Combined with the fact that temperatures in the park can reach up to 114.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the map error is “a potentially life threatening issue,” the release said.

The statement said Victoria police have contacted Apple about the problem, and have recommended drivers rely on alternate “forms of mapping” until the issue is fixed.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment on the concerns.

The company, of course, has taken a lot of grief for the mostly comical errors that plagued early builds of its maps program. And the company — particularly chief executive Tim Cook — has openly admitted that it fell short of its internal standards with Maps.

Cook issued a rare public apology shortly after the program launched, and reiterated his regrets in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek last week.

“We screwed up,” he said of Maps.

Since Maps launched, Apple has gotten rid of mobile software lead Scott Forstall. Apple has also reportedly let go Maps manager Richard Williamson, Bloomberg reported.

Meanwhile the company has been vocal about its commitment to fixing the errors in maps as quickly as possible. It’s a lot of information to process, and the company will need to work hard to catch up with products from Google, Nokia and others who have already devoted years to sketching out the world for Web and mobile users.

Related stories:

Apple announces executive shakeup; iOS, retail heads are out

Apple’s Tim Cook speaks out to Bloomberg on exec shakeup, Maps and more

On Leadership:Apple’s Tim Cook on creativity and changing your mind

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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