back to article Apple updates maps to remove Australia’s ghost-city in the desert

As Apple pushes out an update to iOS 6 maps to remove the now-notorious “desert Mildura”, I’m going to sound an unusual note of fairness to Cupertino for the mistake. It wasn’t actually Apple’s fault. It looked bad compared to Google Maps, because the Chocolate Factory has spent an awful lot of money, time and petrol on …

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Anonymous Coward

+1 for OpenStreetMap

Best map for my part of the world, as the Google car ran out of time to go everywhere and many minor roads are missing, and many are wrongly named. OSM has been lovingly kept impressively accurate around here, pretty good for footpaths too.

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: +1 for OpenStreetMap

> Best map for my part of the world

I found a fairly heinous error close to my house, but by the time I'd worked out how to edit it, the problem had already been corrected...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Rookie mistake.

STEnvelopeCenter() does not always fall within the polygon. As a developer you need to know exactly how the methods you call work otherwise you are going to be caught with your pants down.

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Anonymous Coward

The average end user doesn't give a toss where Apple gets the data from. It's Apple on the box, so Apple get the flak for what's in the box.

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FAIL

Apple fixes map - if they can be bothered to

This shows that Apple fixes issues if the public pressure is high enough. Paddington has been fixed. Luton airport is only found if you give both words.

I am still wondering why Apple purchased sub-standard aerial photographs in the first place.

Did they simply forget to draft a contract that described the properties images should/should not have ( no clouds, colour, angle of view, age of image)?

A lot of these images look like junk nobody else wanted to purchase.

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Thumb Up

What about the other "Rural Cities"

I wonder where Horsham Rural City takes you? Somewhere in the middle of the Little Desert National Park? At least there is water and camping facilities there.

I can see this problem applying to lot of places in Victoria with the same naming structure (Benalla, Wangaratta, Ararat, Swan Hill). Though Mildura is the most inhospitable! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_areas_of_Victoria for reference)

Thumbs up to Apple for fixing this quickly. Just a pity the Apple Maps saga is still going on (and so my phone still runs iOS5).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What about the other "Rural Cities"

Why would you run iOS 5 when you can just bookmark Google Maps on your iPhone in seconds - this really is one of those making a mountain out of a mole hill moments. Competition is good for Google Maps - it's not perfect and will not have to be better = win?

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Apple used Samsung components to make iDevices - Apple good.

Apple used bad data in iDevices - Supplier bad.

BS!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

So....

It isn't Apple's fault if they use unchecked data?

Bollocks!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So....

There is nothing wrong with the data, they are just using the wrong method of getting the centre coordinate of the town.

It is a simple software bug.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So....

Ok so you genuinely expect Apple to personally verify every data point for accuracy - get real. Google maps has plenty of errors and despite me reporting the same 3 errors several times over the last 12-18 months nothing has changed.

I actually welcome the competition and iPhone users now have more choice - Google maps or Apple maps.

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Silver badge

Re: So....

"There is nothing wrong with the data, they are just using the wrong method of getting the centre coordinate of the town. It is a simple software bug."

Not really, it's actually quite complex.

Yes the data is technically correct, and yes they're using the wrong method of getting the centre, but that's only part of the issue, and it's not a simple case of a few lines of code to "fix" seemingly obvious problems.

Google works because they've put a lot of work into it, not because they're miracle programmers.

These Apple problems show that they're using raw data and little work put into it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So....

I'm actually a software developer who works with GIS data and that screenshot in the article says it all.

There are many, many technical challenges working with GIS data but looking at the shape of the town and the position of the centre coordinate it is pretty simple to deduce what went wrong in this case and the fix is to ensure that you or your data supplier use the correct method to calculate the coordinate in question.

Having said that I could be completely wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

People blame the technology - I've seen plenty of people with perfectly accurate maps holding them the wrong way up. If people knew at least roughly where they were going they would be less likely to make errors. Even in the UK (hardly the 'outback') there are towns with the same name so it's not impossible to make errors.

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Silver badge

The whole idea of a walled garden

is too keep the manure pile out. Zero point for the customer otherwise.

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The blame lies in northern Britain, in some trees.

Or in a nearby location named Scott Forstall.

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Anonymous Coward

Suspect apple will spend a truck load of cash on fixing these errors and we will actually end up with a better product / more competition to Google. People speak as if Google are 'god' of mapping and is 100% accurate. In the UK I would trust OS maps first (yet they are not perfect and any map can get out of date).

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Anonymous Coward

Wait for it ... Clue at 11

Wonder how long it takes people to zoom into Melbourne in apple maps and get voting districts / shires as primary names... Good government info but useless for navigation.

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Flame

Appropriate for use?

What will the vast majority of iPhone users use the map for?

To find the nearest place selling lattes or half fat cappucinos....

Anyone who relies on a free mapping app, whether that is Google maps or Apple maps to navigate further than walking distance from civilization deserves what happens. And they are free, you buy a communications device which just happens to have a map app to demonstrate its GPS...

My iPhone runs copilot for use on highways and digital OS maps for navigating off road, I also know how to use a compass and paper maps to find where I am. Hell, I can even use a stick and 2 stones to find North....

Anyone who drives beyond sight of food & water should know how to find their location using only simply technology and what heading they need to reach safety.

Let the downvotes commence ;)

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It's about map quality, not the app.

I was in Berlin recently, and Apple maps was utterly wonderful. They sourced the map data from some group of Germans who are presumably good at that kind of thing, and had superb 3D views and everything. The Maps app could manipulate it in lots of interesting ways the old Google data based app could not.

On the other hand, I am now in Northern Cyprus, and the Apple Maps app is utterly useless, whereas Google Maps is very good. My feeling is that software guys at Apple got all excited about what they could get the software to do, but failed to understand that it was the maps themselves that mattered, or simply discovered that sourcing good maps was hard.

It could also be that they only tested it in Northern California, which is once again a place where I hear that it works well.

Sadly, though, in most places it remains a debacle. I suspect they will fix it at some point, but they will have done lord only knows how much reputational damage to themselves by the time they do. Meanwhile, my iPad is much less useful as a navigational device than it was a year ago.

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Facepalm

To paraphrase another Apple quote ...

Just move the town. It's no big deal!

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Nokia and and Google where smart, Apple dumb and cheap.

Nokia and and Google where smart, Apple dumb and cheap.

Nokia where smart as they bought Navteq for $8B. Navteq have ~6,00 people updating

geo data.

Google developed the Google cars and acquired much of their own data to be independent

of Nokia/Navteq and Telealtalas. They made a tremulous investment.

Apple was dumb and cheap, they didn't invest in mapping and tried to use Open Street Maps

data. OSM is a noble effort but with very variable standards.

In mapping "ground truth" matters. Apple didn't foresee the need for an independent

source of reliable ground truth-ed data. They didn't send the $'s required to verify

the ground truth quality of the data.

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FAIL

Maybe not a mapping fail

Pretty much all of the examples people have given (this one included) sounds like search failures.

In this case, searching for "Mildura" Apple Maps finds "Mildura Rural City" and duly directs the soon-to-be-corpse to that location (which looks to be coded as the centre of the region). Google will do similar things with some UK Postcodes - if you enter the full post code for a postcode, Google may direct you to the centre of the post code sector. The whole Luton or London things are also pretty obviously search failures.

I'm sure there are mapping errors too - but all map data will have some errors in it. If it's a search failure, this is most definitely not the fault of the map data. It is the fault of the search function. And that's entirely the responsibility of the people who wrote the search app... in this case, Apple.

Who'd have thought that Google might be good at taking ambiguous search strings and figuring out what the user might have actually meant? I mean, it's not like it's their day job or anything...

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Trollface

I'm Confused

When Microsoft took over the world with Windows there was a lot of governmental legal action going on to force them to allow other system software on board such as browsers etc,.

Apple now appear to rule the world but there is no legal outcry from the governments forcing them to relinquish system access to non apple apps that appear to have been arbitrarily banned.

Is this still to come or do all the politicians have iDevices?

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Re: I'm Confused

You are indeed. Microsoft with Windows illegally obtained a monopoly, which was further maintained through dubious lock-ins and deliberate non-interoperability. Thank $deity that Apple has so far not managed to achieve a monopoly status, otherwise they could very well be a worse monopolist than Microsoft. You are misled into thinking Apple rules the world because you are overwhelmed by the hype and the fanaticism of the isheeps. The same hype and fanaticism that is rewriting history by attributing the invention of the smartphone to Apple, hotly contested by the fandroids who probably thinks Googsung invented the smartphone.

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obviously the data

What can you possibly mean when you assert, "The question that didn’t get asked in the midst of the game of laughing-and-pointing at Apple is 'what was the data source'?" That is exactly the question I was asking, and I'm sure I was not alone. It seemed obviously NOT to be the fault of the mapping software, it had to be the data being fed into it.

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There are still a lot of "official" gazetted place names that are no longer used

So many n- creeks in Queensland for example and also n- bounce. Some of them are only used locally and have darker connotations such as where a whole heap of rednecks chased people of a different nationality down and bashed them, the first mining boom ended quite badly in Australia.

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