'X' Doesn't Mark the Spot
Usually when a GPS or maps app goes wrong, you only end up a little lost. But, as the endless reports of GPS users ending up in lakes, at the wrong town or a city with a similar name, we end up wondering if it's the technology or the user that's at fault.
In this case, for Apple's new and controversial Maps app, it is definitely the software, as multiple users in Australia have found themselves driven some 70km away from their actual destination while touring the rugged Murray-Sunset National Park. The app reckons the town of Mildura is somewhere deep in the park and repeatedly misleading users, potentially putting them at danger in the blazing southern summer.
Of course, in most places, there is decent road signage and other aids to keep people on the right track, but outside of the State's main roads, there isn't likely to be that much assistance. That doesn't excuse smartphone users from having an alternative app installed, or even a paper map as backup (especially given all the stores about Apple's app), but as long as Apple has a weakness, everyone is going to exploit it for maximum effect.
Down at the Watering Hole
Apple has already fired some managers responsible and pledged to fix the app, but that will be an immense task with the whole world to check over. It has already recommended rival apps, including Nokia's new Here app for iOS, while it works to fix the problems, demonstrated below with the real town under the purple pin and Maps showing it further south.
At the time of writing Mildura is still shown in the wrong place
In the meantime, anywhere wanting some free publicity only needs to check their location on Apple's app and, if its not in the right place, can drum up some local press, which will soon spread around the world. Having the police involved only adds to the credibility of the story and at least, in this case, there has only been some inconvenience to the travellers concerned.
Being wounded like this should actually help Apple in the long-term as it tightens its Q&A procedures and improves development processes. But for now the beatings will continue as more people and places find they aren't where they thought they were. It is rather alarming that Apple hasn't fixed the problem yet, but it does have other problems on its mind right now.