Unafﬁliated with Apple, Inc.
I have been testing Apple Maps in iOS 9 for a white paper I wrote for Yext – Optimizing Local Search for iOS 9 (registration req’d) – and really like where it’s heading. For those of you not brave enough to install the iOS 9 beta on your phone I thought I’d provide some initial looks at the new interface:
Apple Maps Category Search
When you start to enter a query in AM’s search bar, it immediately shows you a list of preset categories: Food, Drinks, Shopping, Fun, Transport, Travel, Services and Health. These are likely the most popular query types. Clicking an icon takes the user to a set of relevant subcategories (see next screenshot). I imagine these could change based on user behavior.
Below the category icons you get a list of favorited locations followed by your most recent searches.
Apple Maps SubCategory Search
Similar to the previous screen except now you get related subcategories and a list of results for the selected parent category. It’s interesting that the “List View” is now the default view (v. the Map View in the current app). This is a lot friendlier than the Map View and starts to look like, I don’t know, local search results?
Apple Maps Map Results View
When you click on a subcategory icon you get a combined Map/List View. Again this is in many ways friendlier than the current default Map View. To see the List View in the current UI you need to click a “List Results” link at the bottom of the page. Certainly owning one of the top 4 slots for these subcategories is going to be desireable.
Apple Maps Business Profile (Above fold)
The business profile remains largely unchanged. The direction links have become more prominent – changing from text links to icons and moving to the top of the page from the middle. This is likely because Apple now has transit info and is an acknowledgement of how common the get directions use case is.
Apple Maps Business Profile (Below fold)
Some minor changes here – the headings of the Photos and Reviews sections have changed from “Photos from Yelp” and “Reviews from Yelp” to just “Photos” and “Reviews”. There is now a smaller “Open Yelp” text link at the top right of each section. Is this an indication that Yelp will eventually not be the only source of data or is it just a way to make it clearer that a click will launch Yelp? In the current app, it’s definitely not clear that clicking on these launches Yelp.
Apple Maps Directions Overview
Now with transit directions!!!!
iOS Spotlight Search Home Screen
When you slide the phone’s home screen to the right, you get the Spotlight Search Home Screen. It displays a row recently used apps then a row of “Nearby” icons. So right off the bat, Apple is telling us that local search is a major user behavior for Spotlight. The icons change based on the time of day. For example, this morning the icons were Breakfast & Brunch, Cafes, Bakeries and Gas Stations. Now, in the middle of the day, they are Restaurants, Fast Food, Coffee & Tea and Gas Stations. It’s unclear if these are selected based on the density of business types near me, user behavior or if they are just standard for everyone. Below these results, you get the latest stories from the new Apple News app. A lot easier than firing up Google News no?
iOS Spotlight Search Results (Above fold)
These results are of course dependent on the query, but here we see a typical local query, “bars”. iOS offers these results:
Recommended Apps: I don’t have many apps installed on my test device but it likely would show apps I have/use first. See the white paper for more on how app indexing and user activity can help you rank in these types of results.
Maps Results: Three profiles linked to Apple Maps
Suggested Websites: This is likely a combo of data indexed from Apps and Applebot’s crawl. According to Apple this content will be ranked based on “user engagement”.
Bing Search Results: aka backfill
iOS Spotlight Search Results (Below fold)
I’ll be publishing more info about the new iOS local search capabilities as I uncover them.
Apple Maps Marketing’s #1 reader, Michael G., just notified me that Apple Maps has made its first satellite imagery update in three years. Here’s Michael’s take:
“Thought you might want to share with your readers that Apple is starting to update their Satellite imagery in select areas. The Satellite imagery is as recent as from just a few months ago. In Florida, the Tampa Bay Area and Orlando have new imagery. This is the first time I have ever seen Apple Maps update its Satellite imagery (not counting Flyover), and I’ve been checking since day one back in 2012. Now that the Satellite imagery is up to date in some areas, this can potentially help business owners who occupy a new building or something that didn’t exist when the old imagery was taken. Now it’s easier for business owners to move their businesses’ pins to the right position. Another thing you might want to share is that if you’re a business owner that owns a business located in an indoor mall, Apple in December of 2014 started to arrange all of a mall’s tenants’ pins to their correct locations in the mall. This is Apple’s first step towards indoor mapping. Some examples of this are attached below. Despite Apple doing this with some malls, there are still many malls that are just as big that Apple has not this for yet. Apple has also started to do this for select airports.”
Apple’s style has always been to launch and then make regular incremental steps towards improvement. The past year, it feels like Apple has put a large number of building blocks in place to push Apple Maps significantly forward. I expect 2016 will be the year when people, including businesses (who are people after all), stop thinking of Apple Maps as a failure and start realizing they, and their customers, are using it…a lot.
In November 2014, we discovered that Apple Maps was testing taking business listings feeds from a number of local search technology and marketing companies. Earlier this year we reported that Yext was the only company from the list that was likely able to publish its clients’ business listings data to Apple Maps. Now, thanks to a newly discovered Apple Maps Acknowledgments page, it appears that business listings from both Position Technologies and DAC Group are now making it into Apple Maps.
The page has a “Rev” date of 6/4/2015 but this is the first I have seen of it so I have a feeling the data may have been making into the maps for a few months but that this page was published in June but was part of some update that only got pushed recently.
This doesn’t mean that other companies are not publishing their clients’ listings to Apple Maps. It just means Apple isn’t telling us that they are yet.
Also of interest is Apple is now publishing its sources of transit data which we expect to see in the new version of Apple Maps coming out in iOS 9. Here’s the list:
- Berlin transit data © 2014-2015 VBB Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH/CC BY 3.0 DE/Adapted for use in Apple Maps/Alle Angaben ohne Gewähr (All information without guarantee).
- Berlin transit data from Ostseeland Verkehr GmbH/Alle Angaben ohne Gewähr (All information without guarantee).
- Germany transit data from Flixbus, a European intercity bus service provider: https://www.flixbus.com
- London transit data © 2015 ITO World Ltd. All rights reserved. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.
- MTA and the MTA logo are trademarks of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and used with permission of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
- AirTrain JFK data from 511 NY.
- Westchester County transit data from 511 NY.
- Alameda County transit data © 2015 AC Transit/Disclaimer/CCBY 3.0.
- San Francisco – Bay Area transit data provided by MTC’s 511.org.
- San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency data reproduced with permission granted by the City and County of San Francisco. The information has been provided by means of a nonexclusive, limited, and revocable license granted by the City and County of San Francisco.
- Brampton transit data © 2015, The City of Brampton (All rights reserved.) Subject to terms at: http://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/OpenGov/Open-Data-Catalogue/Pages/Terms-of-Use.aspx.
- Burlington transit data from the City of Burlington. Subject to terms at: http://www.burlington.ca/en/services-for-you/resources/Initiative Projects/Open_data/TermsOfUse.pdf.
- Grand River Transit data provided by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo under licence.
- Guelph Transit data provided by the City of Guelph under an open government license.
- Hamilton Street Railways public sector data made available under the City of Hamilton’s open data licence.
- Ontario transit data provided with permission of Metrolinx. Metrolinx makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, and assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or currency of the data used herein.
- MiWay transit data from the City of Mississauga. Subject to terms at: http://www5.mississauga.ca/research_catalogue/CityofMississauga_TermsofUse.pdf.
- Contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Niagara Region http://www.niagararegion.ca/government/opendata/terms-of-use.aspx.
- Oakville Transit data licensed under the Open Government Licence – Town of Oakville.
- Toronto Transit data licensed under the Open Government Licence – Toronto.
Last week Zac Hall reported on 9 To 5 Mac that the Apple Maps Acknowledgments page had been updated to include:
Yellow Pages Turkey
Yellow Pages Turkey is pretty straightforward – Turkish business listings.
NavAds appears to be a Yext-like service. Here’s how they describe it on their GPS Listings page:
“NavAds has built a content platform whereby it manages its customer content, and this platform directly links with the core maps of TomTom, HERE and Google (the 3 principal global map providers). NavAds converts the customer content into the required format specifications of these parties and submits the content to these map providers.”
So they likely have a decent set of updated business data that Apple would like to display. Of interest is they recently inked a partnership with UBL. My guess is we will continue to see Apple partner with agents who have direct relationships with large numbers of local businesses to get the freshest data.
e.Wego also appears to provide local data distribution services to its clients along with other local digital presences solutions like store locators and mobile payments. I assume they are focused on French businesses but have not figured that out yet. They also operate the Mark and Go directory which is an empty webpage at this time.
We should continue to see Apple Maps add more of these data partnerships over the summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the launch of iOS 9 this fall that the partner list becomes quite substantial.
Also, while we’re at it, Apple Maps Connect added 5 more regions a few weeks ago: Europe: Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and The Netherlands.
Quickly on the heels of adding data from TripAdvisor and Booking.com, Apple Maps now appears to be using information from Wikipedia, YellowPages Group of Canada and Dianping, China’s version of Yelp, to enhance the data from prominent points of interest (POIs). The profile above is for Burj Khalifa Dubai.
Burj Khalifa Apple Maps Profile (requires Mac OS X or iOS)
Burj Khalifa Wikipedia Page
Here are citations from Apple Maps recently updated Acknowledgements page showing the Yellow Pages Group of Canada* and Pages Jaunes (a YPG co) as business listings data sources:
It’s not clear if Apple Maps is getting data directly from YPG or that it is citing YPG as a source since they supply data to Yelp which then supplies it to Apple Maps. Recently, Google Maps stopped using YPG data. Could this have been because YPG was now in bed with Apple?
Here’s one for the Mili Aquarium in Zhuhai, China using Dianping data:
Mili Aquarium Apple Maps Profile (requires Mac OS X or iOS)
Thus far I have not found any Wikipedia info on Apple Maps profiles of any non-landmark businesses that have Wikipedia pages (e.g. Dylan’s Candy Bar). It appears that the business must have some kind of landmark status to get the Wikipedia data, which appears to override any Yelp or other 3rd party reviews, which now do not appear on these profiles, at least those that I have found thus far.
I expect we will seeing a lot more of these data partnerships roll out over the next few months. Ultimately I anticipate that at some point any iOS app that has POI data will be able to be attached to relevant Apple Maps profiles.
Hat tip to Michael G. for being more obsessive about Apple Maps than even I am!
*Disclosure: Yellow Pages Group of Canada is a client of Local SEO Guide, the owner of this site
With the iOS 8.3 update released today, businesses can now claim their Apple Maps business listing via iOS devices . Here’s how it works:
Search for the business in the Apple Maps app, click on the “i” icon next to the map pin to see the business’ profile. Then click on the “Report a Problem” link:
At the bottom of the Report a Problem screen, click on the “Claim This Business” link:
You then get a pop-up dialog message that says you will need to verify ownership of the business:
When you click “Confirm,” you are taken to the login screen for Apple Maps Connect in the mobile Safari browser where you will need to either login or register with an AppleID to get in.
Once in Apple Maps Connect, you should be taken through the normal phone verification system, but it appears that there are still some kinks to be worked out:
This feature also is now available on desktops with OS X Yosemite version 10.10.3. Just click on the Report a Problem button on any unclaimed business profile:
Thanks to Michael Giskin for first pointing this out!
Looks like Apple Maps is starting to roll out reviews from more sources attached to business profiles. I am surprised it has taken this long. I would not be surprised if by the end of the year we see a lot more data sources in the maps. It has been Yelp’s playground for way too long. Wonder when GasBuddy and GreatSchools will go live?
Yesterday, Apple Maps Connect started allowing businesses in Italy, Mexico & Switzerland to claim their profiles in Apple Maps. Check it out:
You can get the latest on how to get your business in Apple Maps by checking out our Apple Maps Connect FAQ post.