Unafﬁliated with Apple, Inc.
Greg Sterling posted today about Apple Maps’ “new” expanded list of data providers which you can find at http://gspa21.ls.apple.com/html/attribution.html. Unbeknownst to Greg is that this list was updated sometime around the launch of iOS7 in the latter part of 2013. Here’s a November 2013 snapshot from the Web Archive.
It’s not surprising that Greg was not aware of this. It’s an obscure page after all that only the few geeks interested in Apple Maps pay attention to. But what is surprising, as I said in the comments on Greg’s post, is:
- The copyright for Open Street Maps data is 2012. This implies that updated OSM data is not being used in Apple Maps. If that is the case, then making edits to OSM should not have any effect on Apple Maps.
- Why are we in May of 2014 and still seeing “Copyright 2012-2013″? Where’s the 2014 update? This does not speak well to Apple’s much-vaunted attention to detail and it makes me wonder what’s going on over there. It’s a small thing to be sure, but doesn’t Apple always sweat the details? Perhaps Apple Legal has been too busy suing Samsung to pay attention to this stuff.
I heard a rumor recently that a U.S. retail chain has been providing Apple Maps with a spreadsheet of its locations and in exchange has been getting information back from Apple on their business listing data in Apple Maps. I am trying to get this verified (either on or off-the-record). If you have any information about this, please contact me here.
I am not looking to out anyone, just would like more detail about the program, if it indeed exists.
9to5Mac reports that a major upgrade to Apple Maps is in the works for iOS8, with public transit data being the big feature. The report also mentions that “Apple is also working on unique ways for integrating indoor mapping views and enhanced car integration for future versions of iOS. Sources say that Apple has also begun work on augmented reality functionality that leverages the iPhone’s compass hardware to visually see nearby points of interest.”
These sound like worthwhile consumer-focused applications but they aren’t going to do businesses with screwed-up data or missing locations any good. I wouldn’t have expected Apple to use a leak like this to pre-announce a business claiming feature – consumers wouldn’t care and it would do nothing to get people excited about iOS8, but I hope we are pleasantly surprised by a business claiming feature when the update comes out. It is sorely needed.
I just saw this in the Apple support forum:
“We have been trying to get our location corrected for over a year. We finally got a call from Apple about 6 months ago and they said they are aware of the wrong address and would have it fixed in a couple of months. It is still incorrect. Our business name is The Orchard. We are a wedding venue and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday we have from 200 to 400 guests trying to find us. “
This is the first I have heard of Apple Maps calling a business to verify the location data. Has anyone else been called by Apple like this?
TL:DR: FIX YOUR APPLE MAPS DATA ISSUES ON YELP FIRST
Just as Google Local SEO relies on NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number) consistency to help Google understand and rank (or not rank) your business, Apple Maps has its own flavor of NAP inconsistencies gumming up the works. Often businesses whose data is not up to date at all of the business listing aggregators Apple Maps uses, can find their business displayed incorrectly on the Maps or even worse, not displayed at all. These days SEOs are spending a lot of time making sure NAP info is up to date all over the Web, but in the case of Apple Maps, updating your Yelp data may be your best first move. It seems that Apple Maps may trust Yelp’s info more than anyone else’s.
Consider the case of West Kendall Toyota.
Apple Maps lists the business name as “West Kendall Toyota Sales”:
That’s Not The Business’ Name
Nowhere on its site is “West Kendall Toyota Sales” mentioned:
“West Kendall Toyota Sales” is not listed in Apple Maps’ U.S. data aggregators:
- Neustar Localeze ain’t got nothing:
though it has this listing at the same address:
- Factual = Zippo:
though it has this listing at the same address:
- Axciom – Nada:
and it has nada for any other listing for this business.
Yelp To The Rescue
The only evidence I can find of a business named “West Kendall Toyota Sales” in Miami, is on Yelp:
In this case, it’s pretty clear that Apple is trusting Yelp’s business name above all other data it has about the business.
So if you are having issues with your data in Apple Maps, make sure your NAP info is up to date on Yelp first. This will be a much quicker fix than doing it via the data aggregators, which you should also do regardless. If anyone has any additional data on this, please share in the comments.
Comscore has just released data on U.S. smartphone market share for the three months ending in September, 2013. According to my calculations, the report shows that 63% of people with iPhones (or 38 million people) use the Apple Maps app. Here’s how I got the numbers:
Comscore Smartphone Subscriber Market Share Data September 2013:
|Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers
|Apple Share of U.S. Smartphone Subscribers
|Total Apple U.S. Smartphone Subscribers
|| 60 million
|% Reach of Apple Maps
|Total Apple Maps Users
According to Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors, in 2012, 26% of US households (62 million!) had an iPad. Any of the tens of millions of iPads sold over the past year have the Apple Maps app already installed. And Apple’s new OS X Mavericks operating system brought Apple Maps to millions of Apple desktops last month. So suffice to say, Apple Maps’ reach should continue to grow dramatically, particularly after Christmas.
What About Google Maps?
Facebook v Google Maps use in the US in 2012, millions of users. The number of Google Maps users dips in September as iOS 6 is rolled out. Photograph: /PR/ComScore
According to The Guardian, at the same time Google Maps usage has dropped by about 21%, or about 16 million monthly users, over the past year:
“But as iOS 6 began to roll out, and introduced Apple’s maps as the default, the number using Google Maps dropped precipitously, even as the number of iPhones and Android phones began rising. (ComScore does not measure usage on Windows Phone or BlackBerry, which comprise only about 10% of smartphones in use in the US.) By December 2012, even though the base of iPhones and Android phones had grown to 112.9m – up 9.3m – the total number across both platforms using Google Maps on mobile at least once a month had dropped, to 74.4m.
Latest figures from ComScore, published for September 2013, say that the total number of iPhones and Android phones in the US has grown to 136.7m, the number who used the Google Maps app has kept dropping – down to 58.8m – while the number of Apple Maps users stands at 35m out of a total iPhone population of 60.1m.”
The Guardian estimates that Google Maps usage on the iPhone has dropped over the past year by about 29 million monthly users. Ouch.
I have received several inquiries lately from businesses that operate out of residential locations and would like to hide their address in Apple Maps. As far as I know, you can’t hide your address in Apple Maps. And in fact, I have heard through the grapevine that Apple Maps has actively tried to keep businesses located in residential areas out of the maps.
Hey Apple, how about a business profile management dashboard for Xmas?
Now that Apple Maps allows you to suggest categories for business listings, I thought it might be useful to list them here. There are 689 listed categories, but there are several duplicates and for some reason, a number of foreign-language categories like Amtsgericht. Why does it matter what these categories are? If in fact, these are the complete set of Apple Maps’ business categories (I hope not as there are lots of missing categories), then when you are categorizing your business in one Apple Maps’ data suppliers’ databases, you might want to use the exact category name that Apple uses. Often these databases use categories that have a lot of overlap, but if you want to have the best possible chance of your business data mapping from a data provider to Apple Maps, it might be worthwhile to use the closest match to Apple’s categories.
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Apple Maps has improved the “Report a Problem” feature with the release of iOS7 and may have just taken the first step towards making the service more hospitable to businesses.
While I have heard very few cases where reporting a problem actually resulted in that problem being resolved, it’s still interesting to see how Apple is slowly building the functionality to give users more control over the business listings.
Here’s a comparison of the Report A Problem screens from iOS6 and iOS7:
Besides being much more readable, you’ll notice that Apple Maps in iOS7 now allows you to report:
- Street or other label is incorrect
Clicking on this brings up a map where the user is instructed to “Tap the incorrectly labeled street or feature”. This is not the way to fix problems with your business listings. This seems mostly targeted at incorrect map data (v. business data).
- Location is missing (Should be called “Add or Move a Listing” instead)
Select this option to get a screen where you can move a map pin for the business you just searched for to the right location. Not sure why they called this “Location is missing” as the first screen you get when you click is to move the map pin, which would be non-existent for a missing location.
You have to ignore the pin and click on the “Next” link where you then can fill out your business info. I just did it for Local SEO Guide, Inc. so we’ll see how long it takes for it to get into the Maps. Of note, the screen where you can enter your business info allows you to enter the following data about a business:
This is the baby step towards having an actual claiming/updating system for businesses. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until iOS8 for that to happen….More thoughts later.