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Apple has updated the maps that Australian police warned about yesterday, moving the town of Mildura out of Murray Sunset National Park and back where it belongs. But there are still problems right here at home.
Aussie police had recommended that motorists not use Apple’s Maps app, noting that some travelers had been stranded for up to 24 hours in a very desolate and hot desert area with no water supply.
As the Guardian notes, and VentureBeat has confirmed, Apple has fixed that issue.
Which is great for Australians. But the middle of the Australian continent is not the only place where drivers are being put into danger.
I received this email yesterday from an American driver, Joey Newell, who had a Friday the 13th episode with Apple Maps:
This past Saturday night, my girlfriend and I were returning from a company Christmas Party in Yazoo City, Mississippi (an area we are unfamiliar with) headed home to Brandon, Mississippi just after midnight … it was raining.
iOS Maps suggested we take the Hwy 3 exit … which we did …
It then suggested we take a right onto Eagle Road … which we did … a near fatal mistake …
After traveling along the road for approx. 10 miles it suddenly turned into a gravel road … please keep in mind this is a desolate road … no homes, no lights, no businesses … just pitch black, muddy fields, and trees … we were in the middle of nowhere …
As we continued to inch down the muddy gravel road it became treacherous due to the rain and we noticed that we were sliding … if we slid off the side of the road we would be stuck for sure 10 miles from anywhere in the dark of night in the rain …
iOS Maps told us we had 6 miles to the Highway so we pushed forward … my girlfriend was terrified …
As we got closer to the Highway were were confronted by a strange man in the middle of the road trying to flag us down … Bizarre because this is the middle of nowhere … He was holding something in his hand which we couldn’t make out due to the darkness and rain … We both became terrified and had to make a decision … We knew it was dangerous because if we slid off the gravel road we would be stuck and then would be confronted with this individual whose intentions were unknown … this was a bad situation … One we never should have been placed in … we should never have been directed down a dangerous, isolated gravel road.
We took the chance and slid around him on the gravel road nearly getting stuck and pushed on … It was something straight out of a horror movie … Total fear … We will never use iOS Maps again and I strongly advise nobody else does either … It can get you killed.
I can’t confirm all those details, although I have asked Newell for more exact departure and arrival addresses (and will update when and if they arrive). But there are clearly significant issues in Apple’s Maps in various places.
A personal pet peeve: Maps is rather brain-dead about helping you when you give it limited information. I noticed two examples on a recent trip to pick up a sofa.
In both cases, I searched for a street name, assuming (or hoping, the second time) that Maps would find a street somewhat near me, around Vancouver, Canada. Instead, in the first case it found not the Hastings Street in Vancouver, just a few miles from where I was, but the Hastings Street in the UK, thousands of miles (including, by the way, an ocean) away.
In the second case, Apple’s Maps didn’t look in my nearby vicinity for a “Johnson Street,” choosing instead to find a Johnson Street 12,520 kilometers away (amazing but true, see below).
In either case, you would expect a user-friendly, intuitive mapping application from a company like Apple to default to nearer options, which are more likely to be the ones you are searching for. Particularly when oceans intervene, and there won’t be any driving directions possible between the users’s currently location, and the mapped one.
Apple is apparently hard at work on fixing Maps, which is a good thing. Because it desperately needs it.