back to article Another Apple maps desert death trap down under

Just when Apple thought it couldn't get any worse for its beleaguered Maps app, which has been leading motorists deep into the desert when they try to find the town of Mildura, The Register can reveal another SNAFU that could send travellers to an even less hospitable destination. The site in question is Mount Isa, a town in …


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  1. Rick 17

    Needs to be said again, Roadsigns?

    Over 20 years ago I drove through Mildura from Melbourne going to Broken Hill (and I was a Queensland boy).

    One glance at a paper map from RACV was all you needed to know that if you stayed on the highway - you had to hit Mildura. I mean the highways were drawn up to connect the cities.... Though when they made that bypass past goondiwindi in SW qld years ago, it confused me a little. But certainly an unpaved road is not going to lead to a city....

    Actually I blame the car rental companies - I flew down to OZ a few months ago and rented a car - no more free maps, can't even rent maps - have to rent their GPS at 12aud per day - pirates!

  2. Gerhard den Hollander

    Re: Needs to be said again, Roadsigns?

    I've seen more examples then I would like to remember of people who, when gettting conflicting information from roadsigns and their satnav, would trust their satnav.

    If there are major roadworks in the Netherlands, these now include warning signs that people should switch off their satnav.

  3. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Re: Needs to be said again, Roadsigns?

    warning signs that people should switch off their satnav.

    Which they fail to see, busy trying to work out why their navigation is telling them something different from the actual situation.

    Someone I know did a stint as a traffic guard at the Rotterdam marathon, last year or the year before. He had a car trying to get into a cordoned-off street at a spot he was guarding six or seven times as "the navigation tells us to go that way" and every time he had them switch the thing off and gave them instructions to get where they wanted to go.

    Too stupid to live.

    And there was the fellow who didn't want to drive from Nijmegen to Arnhem to pick up something he wanted to buy, because his navi was broken. The directions? "Cross Waal bridge, drive straight on until you cross John Frost bridge, turn right at roundabout, turn right again immediately, turn left at traffic lights. It's just past the next traffic lights". I wonder how he got by before satnav became commonplace.

  4. Martin 47

    We going to have this everyday? Can we not have just one article explaining if you are relying on just a sat nav to find your way anywhere off the beaten track you are an idiot.

    Perhaps you could then go onto explain how some mapping software is better than others?

    Just a thought.

  5. Rampant Spaniel

    True, but it must illicit a little chuckle that the company that prides itself on its revolutionary and magical products can't reliably copy a mapping app, either that or its so bloody magical it takes into account wormholes.

    I think we all knew at least one kid at school who was always on about whatever latest and greatest thing his parents got him, and had a chuckle when it broke. Apple didn't release their maps program and say hey we are still kinda working on this so treat it as a beta, they said it was made of pixie jizz and could turn mud into gold. Set yourself up for a fall and even some folks who like your products will chuckle when you fall.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "either that or its so bloody magical it takes into account wormholes."

    It's just that Apple's technology is so far ahead that even the tectonic plates haven't caught up yet.

  7. Stoneshop Silver badge

    @Rampant Spaniel

    but it must illicit a little chuckle

    The word you're looking for is 'elicit'

    Yours faithfully, Brigadier Sir Charles Arthur Strong (Ms.)

  8. Rampant Spaniel

    Re: @Rampant Spaniel

    Mahalo! caught me bang to rights :-) I shouldn't post at 4am lol Not that my spelling has ever been any good but again thanks :-)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: @Rampant Spaniel

    I think it's best if we believe the irony there is intentional ;)

    * BANGED to rights

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happened before smartphones - yes people followed paper maps, used a compass and read road signs. If using GPS on a smartphone means you park your common sense not sure it's so much of a step forward.

    Did these people not consider what would happen if their smartphone broke - or (albeit unlikely) if there was a problem with the GPS system?

  11. SkippyBing Silver badge

    And yet people still got lost, mostly the ones who can't read maps. It's not as if map reading is an innate skill people are born with, and in some cases despite your best efforts it's not one you can force into them either. I suspect on the Venn diagram of life the circles containing 'people who can't read maps' and 'people who rely on their smart-phone's GPS to the point of madness' are pretty much coincident.

  12. Doogs

    While not exactly what you'd call a tourist destination, I have to say it's very pretty when you drive past it at night with all the mining infrastructure lit up like a Christmas tree.

  13. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Relying purely on a smartphone for navigation proves these phones are smarter than their users.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone for ya!

  15. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Obvious solution

    Is for all those penpushers in the various Australian state governments to buy something fruity and start fixing things - either by providing detailed and accurate information to Apple who have unfortunately been provided with substandard material by devious and unscrupulous companies, or by relocating towns and geographical features to match maps. Apple is just the victim.

    I guess it's lucky (for Apple) that unlimited liability doesn't seem to apply in Australia.

  16. glen waverley

    which way is the sun?

    I notice that the pins, eg on the Mt Isa maps, have a shadow pointing to the north east. The developers of the pin-drawing applications (which may not be Apple, nor Google nor even Uncle Tom Cobbley) really ought to know that in the southern hemisphere shadows fall to the south, shouldn't they.

    Or are the shadows just some sort of decoration? In which case why do it?

    Al in all, it doesn't really inspire confidence that the product actually understands what it is trying to do. Which I suppose is really the point of the article, and also the Mildura article.

    Beer icon - well it is Oz, after all

  17. Eddie Edwards

    Re: which way is the sun?

    I think the idea is that the pin is a pin in the map, not a huge Space Needle type affair in the real world that you megalomaniacally control with your finger. Hence, the shadows would depend on your local light source, not on the light source at the mapped location. You'll notice they also fail to render the map in black when it's nighttime at the mapped location.

    The real shocker here is that they're not using the front-facing camera to determine the location of the light sources where I am to make the drop shadow accurate even for that case. Clearly, it shows they have no attention to detail. I for one wish Apple would finally show some interest in Skeuomorphic interfaces.

  18. glen waverley

    Re: which way is the sun?

    Eddie E says "Hence, the shadows would depend on your local light source, not on the light source at the mapped location"

    Yeah, i'd thought of that one. I always have my desk lamp pointing at my work from under my left arm pit to throw a shadow to the upper right. Which would give me a shadow to the nor' east while I'm sitting at my desk. But perhaps not so much in the back o' beyond while I'm trying to drive to the Isa. Or Mildura.

    I did have a bit of mental confusion as to what time of day would lead to a nor'east shadow in the outback. But then i thought "If I was in a car on my way from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa, that is local to me" and so in the morrning, the shadow should be W to SW and in the arvo SE to E. And as Eddie says, at night pretty dark so not much shadow. Or light!

    My original point was probably that the application is saying "we're not from these parts", which should be a warning. But a bit too subtle for those people who having paid for a software bundle, think that an application should be fit for purpose. Which it doesn't seem to be.

    Need a beer after thinking that hard

  19. M0les

    In this case they've improved their customer's lives

    I mean really... Who wants to go towards Mount Isa?

  20. Andus McCoatover

    Grief, was none of these iMap-relant users never in the scouts???

    Basic ap-reading and a compass?? Sheesh! Cheaper than the app, and vastly more reliable!

  21. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Re: Grief, was none of these iMap-relant users never in the scouts???

    They do app-reading in the scouts, is that like a badge for playing Angry Birds?

  22. g e

    Advice to Oz users in-the-style-of

    Apple users in Oz are obviously navigating it the wrong way.

    Just go somewhere else instead. Not that big of a deal.

  23. Shane8

    If the Mayans are correct, then Apple maps will soon be 100% accurate...

  24. Techs UK

    Nokia maps puts it in the right place...

    ... if anyone is interested. I suppose that is what IOS6 users are using anyway.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As for other entries than Mildura and Mildura Regional City, it's fairly easy to eliminate a mine, school, railway station, airport from the dataset.

    Reminds me of the story of the travellor who arrived at a station and discovered to his surprise that it was situated a couple of miles from the actual down - when he asked the station master why the station wasn't actually in the town he got the reply that they'd thought of that but decided it was best to build the station beside the railway line!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had alook at the area on google maps and using the "terrain" options then there's a "mountain" about 400m high at about where the Apple pin is ... no indication of a name is given but I'd hazard a guess that its called "Mt Isa".

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's the thing, when you've got billions of dollars sitting in your bank account, sell your phones for premium prices and tell the world how fantastic they are, then you ditch a major competitors mapping app and bring out your own, making a massive announcement about how fantastic it is (it has Singapore on it, and everything), if you claim it is beautiful and that you're doing it all yourself, then, it turns out that you've spent so much time making it look nice when you're rendering downtown San Francisco buildings, but it can't find towns or cities, because they either don't exist or are in completely the wrong location... when you'e done all that... expect the world to point and laugh... and keep laughing... because you've made yourselves look complete and utter fuckwits.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "because you've made yourselves look complete and utter fuckwits" just like the tech's owners.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "because you've made yourselves look complete and utter fuckwits" just like the tech's owners."

    You clearly speak with considerable authority.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    IOS Maps is for finding lattes.

    It's as I keep saying.

    iOS maps is for finding your nearest Barista not for navigating outside of city limits....

    I may own an iPhone but I don't use the maps on it...

    Beer icon cos there's no coffee mug......

  31. DMoy

    Longest street in the world?? - - I think not!

    "...approximately 200 kilometres to the west of Mount Isa and its main street is actually the highway, making it the longest street in the world,” PIFFLE!!!

    Younge Street, running north from the shore of Lake Ontario, through Toronto and into Northern Ontario is 1,896km long. For the apparantly maths-challenged in that little town in Aus: 1,896>200

  32. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Longest street in the world?? - - I think not!

    The point was that the 200km length is all WITHIN the city boundaries.

    There are lots of other long streets.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got an old second hand iPhone 3GS as payment for some computer work. Only way I would own one.

    Love jailbreaking and 3rd party Satnav apps, got me around New Zealand and New England with no problems, except when it died in the "urban canyons" of downtown Boston. At rush hour. Bugger!

  34. Jason404


    ..the killer app on iOS.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just pinch and zoom out; then the places appear closer. Continue to zoom out and before you know it, they are right on top of on another. It's not that hard.

    Steve Jobs

    Sent from my iGrave

  36. Petrea Mitchell

    Try Death Valley

    The obvious place to check in the US is Death Valley, which has seen enough trouble from people using more reliable mapping systems that the National Park Service actively warns people off using any form of electronic navigation, as on this page:

  37. John Tserkezis

    I don't get it.

    When travelling on out-of-the-way areas, or even some out-there tarmaced roads, we have at LEAST two or three separate maps covering the land we'll be on. And that's just in the digital realm, he have other paper maps that seldom get used, but you never know when hardware failures happen.

    Heck, one of the guys I know has two lots of hardware too.

    It staggers me to hear that people are getting lost using a mere iPhone with online maps.

    Well, not that they're getting lost, but that they actually trust this...

    I bet they don't have comms, food and water either.

    I guess you can't trust against idiocy.

  38. Hellcat
    Thumb Up

    Well with the launch of Google maps for iOS today, maybe these people can finally find their way home?

    Thumb: Because you don't want to be hitchhiking and lost in the outback!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Solution to it all

    Apple should patent the idea of paper maps and print their own using the same database. The would avoid any confusion surely?

  40. TimChuma

    This is why you still need paper maps/local knowledge

    Also a good GPS for outback Australia.

    People still die in Australia of exposure in the outback every year.

    Had to go to a music festival in Nymagee (Western NSW) a few years back and it was hard to even find on Google Maps. You cannot find out local road conditions such as if the road we were taking was closed due to flooding 24 hours before.

  41. Tim Roberts 1

    been to outback australia?

    Unless you have been to the real outback, you have no effing idea about remoteness. Anyone who relies on a phone/tablet/whatever for directions in such areas needs their head read. Unfortunately a good proportion of the population now believes that a phone is all they need.

    A good quality GPS backed up by paper maps - or perhaps the other way around, and a satellite phone are mandatory .....Oh and dont forget your emergency beacon, it may well save your life.

    Some guidelines for survival

    - dont leave your vehicle

    - take plenty of water

    - dont leave your vehicle

    - take more food than you think you'll need

    - dont leave your vehicle

    - use your satellite phone

    - dont leave your vehicle

    - activate your emergency beacon

    - dont leave your vehicle

    Think I'm joking or over-reacting? Again you have no effing idea.


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