Is Apple Maps Actually Dangerous?

There's been no shortage of criticism for Apple's new Maps app; everything from strange 3D renderings of the Brooklyn Bridge to areas of the world only available in black and white. Now there's another big one to add to that list: Apple Maps could kill you.

That's according to an Australian police bulletin, after local authorities had to rescue some stranded motorists that were lost in Murray-Sunset National Park. The travelers were trying to reach the city of Mildura, which Apple's app evidently believes is located in the middle of the aforementioned national park. Apple is about 70 kilometers (approximately 43 miles) off target.


Source: Screenshot from author's device. Actual destination shown in red square. Emphasis added.

Since the park has no water supply and temperatures reach highs of 46 degrees Celsius (nearly 115 degrees Fahrenheit), Australian authorities consider this a "potentially life threatening issue." Like many national parks, cell reception is sparse or nonexistent, and some stranded iPhone users went up to 24 hours with no food or water and had to walk through treacherous terrain searching for cell reception. Fortunately, no one has actually died from the misdirection.

While the story lends to juicy headlines (see above), it's worth noting that these types of things happen with almost all mapping systems. Even the Google Maps offering that Apple just ditched has had some similar tarnishes on its reputation.

Way back in 2009 when Google Maps' walking directions were in beta, they directed a female traveler to stroll on the side of a rural highway with no sidewalks. She was subsequently hit by a car, survived, and then filed suit against Big G for leading her astray. Common sense aside, travelers are best advised not to walk on highways, even if Google tells you to.

A couple of years before that, Google also had some problems with Australian directions very shortly after its launch Down  Under. Travelers looking to walk from a hotel to Google's local headquarters, which was directly across the street, were instructed to hop in a car and drive for 20 minutes. That trek wouldn't be life threatening, but certainly a waste of time.

There have been other stories out there, like a man drowning after his GPS directed him to drive into a lake, and there will be more in the future. Apple Maps is suffering from problems most mapping services see in their early days. Even Google's been there, done that.

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