Australian Police Says Apple Maps Can Be ‘Life Threatening’

Over the last month, at least six Australians were left stranded in the desert after following directions by Apple's mapping service.

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Mark Kolbe / Getty Images

How bad is Apple’s new mapping software? According to Australian police, it can be “life threatening.”

Over the last month, at least six Australians have been left stranded in the desert after following directions by Apple’s mapping service, authorities say.

On Monday, Victoria state police in Southeastern Australia urged motorists not to trust the mapping service, provided on Apple’s new iOS 6 system for iPhones and iPads. Following Apple’s directions to the small town of Mildura led drivers into the desolate heart of Australia’s second largest natural park — exposing them to potentially “life threatening” situations, Victoria police said in a statement. On the supposed alternative route to the small town of 30,000, the track opens up to rough desert terrain requiring four-wheel drive, local police inspector Simon Clemence told the Sidney Morning Herald.

The mapping system left the drivers stranded in Australia’s Murray-Sunset National Park — where there is no fresh water supply or cell phone reception, and where temperatures can reach nearly 115 degrees Fahrenheit. “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,” it said.

(MORE: Five Alternatives to Apple’s iOS 6 Maps)

Victoria Wake and her partner, interviewed by Australia’s ABC News, said they got lost for five hours in the 2,500 sq. mi. park in November. “We had no water, we had nothing to eat,” she told the broadcaster. One of their tires punctured before their car eventually became bogged down in the sand.

By Tuesday morning, Apple engineers had half-fixed the glitch, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Drivers coming from Adelaide were given the right directions, but drivers coming from Melbourne were still led into national park. Police advised motorists to rely on other maps.

Back in September, shortly after Maps was released, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook gave the same advice in an open letter to the company’s customers. The prematurely released software was full of glitches: In England, for example, the town of Stratford-upon-Avon — William Shakespeare’s birthplace — was missing. Ussex, a small town of 14,000 in Eastern Sussex, was misplaced. The service even offered solution to a  territorial dispute by China and Japan, showing the contested Senkaku islands twice.

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