Apple has again changed the status of Crimea in its map service. The Black Sea peninsula and the cities on it are now clearly listed as belonging to Ukraine again. Previously, when using Apple’s Maps app outside of Russia, Crimea was listed as part of an “Autonomous Republic of Crimea.” Apple’s pre-installed weather app on iPhones also maps cities like Sevastopol and Simferopol to Ukraine, sometimes with the addition of “Autonomous Republic of Crimea.” Changes were made to the search function, the map view itself seems to have not changed so far.
It is unclear whether the map service was changed after the Russian attack on Ukraine or before. A request from Apple went unanswered.
Apple Maps mapped Crimea to Russia, but only in Russia
When accessing Apple Maps from Russia, Crimea appears as a Russian territory since 2019, and it should remain so. Russia occupied Crimea, which is part of Ukraine under international law, in 2014 and then threatened mapping services with severe sanctions for changing the designations. Google Maps does not assign Crimea and the cities in it, when accessed outside of Russia, to any country.
The assignment to Russia sparked massive criticism of Apple in late 2019. Members of the European Parliament complained that the group was undermining international law. Apple defended the decision, saying it wanted to make sure the map service works everywhere and that the law in Russia requires the display to be changed. However, Apple wanted to examine “how we deal with controversial borders in our services, and might make changes in the future as a result,” it said at the time.
Traffic information in Crimea is still active
Earlier this week, after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Apple “paused” product sales in Russia and banned Russian state broadcasters from the App Store. Services like Apple Pay no longer work with cards from certain Russian banks. Like Google Maps, Apple Maps has turned off live traffic information in Ukraine, “as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens,” as Apple emphasized. Crimea seems to continue to play a special role here, as information about traffic jams is currently displayed there on Apple Maps.
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