Stratford-upon-Avon is missing and Greenland is in the Indian Ocean: Apple loses its way with maps technology for iPhone 5


Hajar Wright,Kevin Rawlinson
Friday 21 September 2012 17:28 BST
Users have complained that Apple's new map is riddled with mistakes
Users have complained that Apple's new map is riddled with mistakes (Getty Images)

Apple pilgrims travelling miles to be among the first to get their hands on the iPhone 5 might not wish to rely on their new purchase to find their way home again.

Users have complained that Apple's new map is riddled with mistakes, including misplacing London's Paddington Station, marking the town of Dudley seven miles from its actual location and identifying an Irish city farm as an airport.

"It just seems bonkers to have gone from such a useful map app to a useless one with a few gimmicks. Just because they fell out with Google, why should a consumer suffer because of the business?" said one frustrated user James Dunn. He downloaded the new software on Wednesday evening but was surprised to find Aldwych tube station in central London's Lincoln's Inn fields. 

Mr Dunn said: "Not only has it put Aldwych station in the middle of the field but also the Sir John Soane's Museum which is on the road not in the middle of the park."

Another mistake, which saw an airport appear in Dublin, prompted the country's Justice Minister Alan Shatter to warn pilots they risk emergency landing on the "Airfield" tourist spot in his constituency in the south of the Irish capital.

He said: "There are a variety of possible alternative images that could be utilised such as a cow, a goat, a sheep, a flower or any indeed other type of plant, as Airfield operates a nursery. An aircraft is an entirely inappropriate flight of imagination."

Blogs detailing some of the worst examples and spoof Twitter accounts quickly sprang up. One blog showed a search for Stratford-upon-Avon on both Apple and Google's maps. The former, which is now standard on iPhones running Apple's most up to date software, showed no sign of the town.

A search for the Belgian town Antwerp placed the town in the countryside, miles to the east of its actual location, which was even visible on the map.

But what for many is a joke, for others is a frustration and which, according to industry experts, could spell trouble. Adam Leach, principal analyst at online market analysis firm Ovum said: "Apple needs to get its act together. It is their first go but they have to be careful that when they move into new ground, that their product meets the expectations of their consumers.

"They trade on the loyalty of their fans so, for some people, this won't be a problem. But, for the majority, they just want it to work and to work in a way that pleases them. If a company like Apple starts to fail on too many parameters, they will begin to lose their mass-market appeal.

"One instance will not cause this but it is about making sure it is not a repeated pattern." Using data from navigation firm TomTom, Apple claims its new feature is "beautifully designed from the ground up (and the sky down)". Reports of its inaccuracies should come as little surprise to firm, though since they were reported by major technology websites in June this year.

Gizmodo reported several "dumb mistakes" including Greenland being mistaken for the Indian Ocean, while BuzzFeed blogger John Herman claimed the new app "wants you dead" as it directed users to drive off a bridge. Despite the errors though, Gizmodo remained confident that issues would be ironed out.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

Off the map...

*People searching for London in the new Apple Map might get a surprise: the first return is in Ontario in Canada.

*One search for directions on sent drivers the wrong way down a dual carriageway. The junction in question is within walking distance of Apple's California HQ.

*People searching for a takeaway near Leeds might need to take care: Apple's map places the Rodley Chinese Takeaway in the Leeds-Liverpool canal. The user who spotted the mistake also found his house has been transformed into a pub.

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