The map that Apple HAS to make blurred: Taiwanese government complains new maps app is revealing military secrets

  • US bases  also appear on the service in high resolution
  • Google has  ‘muzzed’ or distorted military installations

By Mark Prigg

PUBLISHED:14:51 EST, 9  October 2012| UPDATED:15:03 EST, 9 October 2012

After facing huge criticism for blurred maps,  Apple has received an unusual request – to make its maps MORE blurry.

The technology giant came under fire for the  poor quality of its maps after users found missing locations, areas obscured by  cloud and even distorted bridges and roads.

However, Taiwanese officials found the maps  too accurate – and have  Apple to blur satellite images of sensitive  military installations which are freely available to iPhone 5 users.

Part of Hsinchu in Taiwan on Apple's maps - Apple has been asked to removed imagery of a secret base in the area. 

Part of Hsinchu in Taiwan on Apple’s maps – Apple has  been asked to removed imagery of a secret base in the area.



After widespread criticism of its maps app,  Apple boss Tim Cook was forced to make an embarrassing public apology over the  firm’s flawed maps software.

The company even changed the text on their  website and no longer describes their problematic map application as ‘the most  beautiful, powerful mapping service ever’.

The defence ministry reacted after the  Liberty Times newspaper printed a satellite picture, downloaded with an  iPhone  5, showing a top-secret long-range radar base in the northern  county of  Hsinchu.

‘Regarding images taken by commercial  satellites, legally we can do nothing about it,’ the ministry’s spokesman David  Lo told reporters.

‘But we’ll ask Apple to lower the resolution  of satellite images of some confidential military establishments the way we’ve  asked Google in the past,’ he said, referring to the Google Earth programme.

Apple has not yet received a formal request,  according to Bravo, a Taiwan PR company handling its media relations.

It declined to speculate how Apple would  respond to a request.

The Hsinchu base houses a cutting-edge  long-range radar procured from the United States in 2003.

Construction of the radar is expected to be  completed by the end of the year.


The ultra-high-frequency radar, supplied by  US defence group Raytheon, is capable of detecting missiles launched as far away  as Xinjiang in China’s northwest, military officials say.

They say the radar, which cost Tw$36 billion  ($1.23 billion and £769,000), is designed to give Taiwan minutes of extra  warning in case of a Chinese missile attack.

A Taiwanese army tank taking part in a military exercise in Hsinchu, where a military installation has been revealed by Apple in its maps softwareA Taiwanese army tank taking part in a military exercise  in Hsinchu, where a military installation has been revealed by Apple in its maps  software

Taiwanese experts estimate China currently  has over 1,600 ballistic missiles aimed at the island. The number appears to  have continued to rise despite improved relations since 2008 when Ma Ying-jeou  of the China-friendly Kuomintang party became Taiwan’s president.

Beijing still sees the island as part of its  territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though Taiwan has  governed itself since 1949 at the end of a civil war.


Maps have also been affected by the British weather - for instance, Colchester is hidden by cloudScreenshot_2012-09-20-19-04-09.png

Apple’s view of  Colchester (left) is shrouded in cloud, while Google (right) has a clear view.  The firm was initially derided for its poor maps – now the Taiwanese government  has complained they are TOO accurate

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Categories: Internet, Security, Technology

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