Having ended its deal to use Google as a supplier, Apple began providing its own map data for iPhones and iPads with iOS6. The results were so inaccurate and unreliable that Apple chief Tim Cook had to issue an apology of the type you’d never expected to have heard from Steve Jobs.
Now the Taiwanese defense ministry is complaining that the new maps include a satellite shot taken around a year ago of a defense facility. A newspaper in Taiwan recently printed an image of the facility taken from an iPhone 5.
Spokesman David Lo says that although it’s up to the military to camouflage its sites, mapping companies should show some sensitivity. He notes that Google uses low-resolution images for military sites and has asked Apple to add a level of blurring to its own picture. However, Lo conceded there’s no legal recourse against Apple as local security laws don’t have much relevance to images taken from a satellite.
The concern appears to be based on the facility being an early warning radar station designed to pick up incoming missiles and planes from surrounding nations (for which you can read China, which claims sovereignty over the island.) The station in northern Taiwan is said to be 10 stories high and built with US technology.
The site is still under construction and should be ready for use later this year. Its existence appears to have been a fairly open secret in the region, though the irony is that Taiwan has now confirmed its military use by making the complaint.
Apple’s local public relations agency says the company hasn’t yet received a formal request to alter the imagery.