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Fancy yourself as a bit of a Ramblin' Man or Woman? Maybe brush up on your cartography

Ordnance Survey map app update left some users lost, but they're really sorry, m'kay?

All is not well in the corridors of respected Blighty institution the Ordnance Survey as a borked app update left users, in a very real sense, flailing in the wilderness.

A Register reader got in touch after a flawed update to the organisation's Android app left things a tad squiffy. We had a look at the feedback and lordy – something had clearly gone horribly wrong as cartography enthusiasts, normally such a sober crowd, began to lay into the august institution.

Reviews such as "Zero stars! Since the update, this app is absolutely f***ing useless", "Recent updates have ruined what was a truly superb app" and "Please fix it! Used to be great, now broken by bad design" are a small sample of the outpouring of grief from previously happy users.

It's all a bit unfortunate for the mapping app, which was, to be fair, a handy tool for OS subscribers keen to ramble far and wide until a borked update was pushed out into the wider world.

Broken downloads, iffy autoscaling and a loss of saved routes all come up over and over again in the user complaints. Reg reader "Dobbs" told us that on his next stroll "in the Lakes", he'd be "taking good old paper maps and a compass rather than relying on the OS Maps app."


We contacted the Ordnance Survey, and in a refreshing example of honesty in the face of borkage, the venerable institution explained in great detail what had happened:

In order to cope with the increased demand for our OS Maps mobile app, we recently made necessary changes to the app, which unfortunately didn't go as well as we had planned. This led to a frustrating time for some of our customers.

It certainly did, but the spokesperson went on: "We have been deploying fixes on a daily basis to address the issues, but on Friday a more serious bug surfaced that caused the app to crash immediately for a small percentage of our users."

Ouch, again.

"We immediately rolled back the deployment, but for some users this was too late, as they had already downloaded the defective build.

"The crashing issue on OS Maps has now been fixed and the app is working as we'd expect. However, we do acknowledge that there are some design elements that have not been as well received as our research suggested, which is causing some problems.

"We will continue to work with our customers, to use their feedback to improve the app, and release new builds on a regular basis to deliver the best possible experience for our users."

It seems the curse of the current industry obsession with DevOps and CI/CD has struck even such venerable institutions as the Ordnance Survey. We asked what the organisation's preferred toolchain was, but it preferred not to answer.

It was, however, decent enough to proffer a big ol' sorry to its users: "We have apologised unreservedly to our customers for the bugs in the system and the team have been working day and night to rectify issues."

If only that day and night working had included testing, eh? ®

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