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

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


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Oh few! That headline is not designed to be a headline...

    Maybe you placed it from your iphone?

    I know I know, i'm calling FUD on the article whilst joining in, but c'mon - that update was funny; who hasn't played the "find a fault" game with it? Even an apple guy I know was laughing about it.

    That MAJOR stuff up aside, I simply can't get on board with this kind of click bait, FUD spreading, emotive nonsense article... What I believe Sheldon would refer to as "Reductio ad absurdum".

    Here's the flaw; if you rely on these tools for long enough, google maps will get someone killed by your logic; it's sure not perfect; not Apple bad, but not perfect. For example all kinds of restaurants and bars in central London are well out of date. Now I don't know about emergency situations, but it would suggest that other information would also be out of date?

    It reminds me of an instance in the UK a few years ago where sat navs were directing cars into a river, and local farmers were charging to tow the idiots out. Who hasn't seen the classic top-gear RAC route planner fiasco? I myself argue with the logic of London's TFL route planner EVERY time i use it.

    The fact is these things are meant to be aids; if you drive yourself into a river or a swamp or whatever, it's your fault. If you are trying to race to a hospital with your phone... Presumably 911 was engaged, but you're doing it, you'd probably want to check for an emergency room. Or phone ahead to let them know you're coming? I suppose you could be meeting somebody at the hospital, but then the name of your hospital would be known...

    At the end of the day even an ordinance survey map is no competition for the scope of human stupidity.
    • What's wrong with finding faults?

      His cited cases seem kinda valid and, quite frankly, corporations should be held to a standard and not be sloppy or misleading. I'm sorry you want to justify and support unethical behavior that Apple, Google, and others do. That's what's real stupidity.
      • Puleeze!

        If I have a life threatening problem that LAST thing I'm gonna do is use a maps program, ANY maps program, to find out how to get there. That's what 911 is for!
        • Just because that is what you would do

          doesn't mean every other person on the planet will. So, basically you are saying people should not use tech that has emergancy functionality to help them get medical help when they are somewhere away from home.

          Sounds pretty unreasonable to me.
          • I agree...

            An ambulance would be overkill (and expensive) for most in the case of child birth, but I'd certainly consider it an emergency. Getting to the hospital in a rush would be expected, however.

            I'm sure after the first few deaths, Apple pundits will fall in line as they always do and call it "creative thinning of the population." I'm OK with that.
          • Even google tells you..

            to use some common sense based on the situation if you interpret EULAs. Both disclaim themselves if you choose to try to use them to replace smart use and intelligent leverging of these tools. Apple's option actually adds to your choices if you excercise that same wisdom. If you read both fine prints, it's meant as an aid, not a replacement for common sense. By using either you're admitting and consenting to this.
          • Emergency (not emergancy) functionality?

            You mean the ability to call 911? A maps app no matter who it's by isn't emergency functionality.
        • 911

          You might consider using a map program if there's a medical emergency while on vacation 100s or 1,000s of miles from home without any idea where things are and your cell phone connects you with a 911 operator in another part of the state.
          • 911

            "...your cell phone connects you with a 911 operator in another part of the state."

            Or as is common in my area, another state altogether. Where I live in southeastern NJ, cell phones often connect to towers in Delaware or Pennsylvania, across the Delaware River, and their cell phones often connect to NJ towers. Although each state's 9-1-1 centers are capable of transferring the calls to the appropriate state, the location information is often lost in the process. Things can get complicated if the caller doesn't have a good nav system and doesn't know where he is.
          • 911

            Sorry, that should have been "southwestern NJ."
          • Wow, what a failwhale....

            When you dial 911 it automatically routes you to the GEOLOGICALLY closest dispatch center. Try it next time you're on a trip and something happens. I have a tennessee number and live in florida, when I dial 911 it's the dispatch center 3 miles away that answers.
        • No, It's NOT

          911 is for summoning emergency services to your location, not getting turn-by-turn directions to an ER or what ever.
          • Who said it was for turn by turn?

            Nobody said that.
      • Hey i didn't justify it,

        I attacked this article. I think I was quite clear about my thoughts on apple - they let their users down big over a corporate feud. This article isn't about safety, it's typical fear mongering to garnish replies. That's irrisponsable reporting and I stand by it. Thank you for taking the time to reply, but I must confess I'm unlikely to abide such exaggerated articles in the future. It's not about who's got the biggest IQ, rather the quality of content.
        • Keep That Thought

          When or If the worst happens, maybe you can use it to console yourself.

          Me, I won't take the chance.
          Even with Google Maps, I generally reverify any address I have never been to before but still use Google Maps to get me there.

          Having played with Apple Maps, I won't trust it as I have seen the problems.

          By the way, if a pharmaceutical company played this loose with just the verbiage on its packages, never mind the product,they would be in a recall, have lawsuits up the ass, and government agencies crawling all over them.

          David's right, you have to play worst case scenario.
          Anything less is placing a high risk on us ... the consumer.
          • Yes, you have to **verify** Google maps

            How many people Google maps killed already -- no one really knows, and David is not the person to question that due to personal preferences.

            Earlier Nokia showcases Google Maps lacks, and here is another example:


            From left to right: Apple's maps, Yandex' maps, Google maps.

            How many people Google maps killed?
          • I can tell you this...

            In the early days of GPS, mine would steer me "crazy scary" the wrong way. I'd sometimes find it was trying to make me do U-turns in illegal places, and take the wrong way on one way streets.

            I find that Google GPS is typically par for the course on their directions, and they have spent the money and time driving down streets to ensure their accuracy.

            5 years ago, you could have given Apple a pass, but people have relied on this accuracy for so long, that you can't at this point (of course, Apple pundits always will... They'd defend them to their own grave - literally in this case).
          • WAIT A MINUTE...

            And how pray-tell are you going to VERIFY a location? Google it?

            We're hitting the derposphere here...
          • Who is giving them a pass?

            The closest thing I have read is stating there are issues but it will get better. That isn't the same as giving it a pass. I have been misguided at some point by ever GPS and mapping software I have used including Google Maps. So far I have not been able to create any of them but Apple Maps has issues for sure, but it will get better and nobody is forces to use it.
          • Sorry i don'tfollow

            You'd use maps apps rather than the telephone function of your phone, attempt to verify what the app says with the browser app, then continue trying to find a hospital you don't know with a map in an emergency, when you could have called the emergency services in the first place? If you want to go to these extremes, be realistic about them.