How long will it be before iOS 6 Maps kills someone?

Summary:This is an epic failure on the part of Apple, and not just because a favorite application has been replaced with a dog. Rather, this may be a case of criminal negligence.

That is not a hyperbolic question designed to get headlines. It's actually a serious question. Apparently, there are numerous reports of iOS 6 Maps misdirecting users in need of medical care.

  • Buzzfeed reports that instead of taking a user to a clinic, the maps app took him to a "mobile home estate" next to an abandoned doctors office.
  • Healthcare IT News reports that users are being directed to hospitals that have been shuttered for years, the new app doesn't show hospitals that currently exist, and is misdirecting patients searching for emergency rooms.
  • The Star Tribune reports that iOS 6 Maps direct patients to a hospital that was closed in 1985!

This is an epic failure on the part of Apple, and not just because a favorite application has been replaced with a dog. This is also not the case of cranky pundits using Apple as a punching bag.

Rather, this may be a case of criminal negligence. According to West's Encyclopedia of American Law, criminal negligence is "The failure to use reasonable care to avoid consequences that threaten or harm the safety of the public and that are the foreseeable outcome of acting in a particular manner."

Millions of users have no idea that the mapping application changed for the radically worse. They've been relying on iPhone maps for years, and have become quite familiar with the general reliability of the Maps app.

As users, they've been trained that when their phone says "upgrade me," they do the upgrade. Even though many of them have no idea what new features are in iOS 6, they just assumed that there'd be more and better goodies.

There was no warning that the map application went from proven production to barely alpha quality. There was no dialog telling users that they're now using unproven software. There's no warning that tells emergency patients (and their loving families) that they better confirm directions using an alternate source because the map application is borked.

Apple not only betrayed the trust of its customers, it put their lives on the line because the company couldn't be bothered to put up a warning dialog.

Apple has pulled some misguided stunts in the past, but never with this vast potential for grievous harm.

Topics: Apple, Google, Government, Government : US, Health, Security

About

In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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