Apple (sort of) fixes ‘potentially life-threatening’ error in its Maps app

The correct location of Mildura now shows with a pin although at the time of writing the former Mildura label remains (click to enlarge).

Apple appears to have fixed a problem with its Maps app a day after police in Australia warned travelers not to use the software following a number of incidents where motorists relying on it for directions had become lost and stranded in a scorching hot national park.

The motorists in question had been looking for the town of Mildura in the southern Australian state of Victoria but became lost in Murray-Sunset National Park due to a Maps location area.

A search for Mildura on Apple Maps now drops a pin in the correct location, which means it’s fine if motorists heading to Mildura want to use the software for directions. However, at the time of writing, the old ‘Mildura’ label is still showing on the map too, which may continue to cause confusion for some users.

Before Apple dealt with the issue, concerned police said the inaccurate software, which placed Mildura some 43 miles (70 km) from its actual location, could cause a “potentially life-threatening situation”, especially as temperatures in the park can reach up to 46C (114F).

“Local police have been called to assist distressed motorists who have become stranded within the Murray-Sunset National Park after following directions on their Apple iPhone,” Victoria Police News reported on Monday.

They added that some of the rescued motorists had been stranded for up to 24 hours without food or water and had walked long distances through dangerous terrain in an effort to get a phone signal.

Apple has had a rough time with its iOS map app since its launch with iOS 6 in September. Misplaced locations and lack of detail left many users incredulous and led to Apple CEO Tim Cook issuing an apology. This latest error, coupled with its serious nature, is another embarrassment for the Cupertino company.

With the media outlets around the world picking up the story, it’s little wonder the tech giant acted quickly to put things right. Perhaps this is what Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller meant back in September when she said of Apple Maps, “The more people use it, the better it will get.” Although it’s a safe bet she didn’t have images of dehydrating Australians in mind when she said it.

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