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.
Two years in Apple Maps finally launched Apple Maps Connect, a service for small businesses to update and add their business listing information to Apple Maps. According to Greg Sterling the service is “intended for small business owners or their authorized representatives (though not agencies) to be able to quickly and easily add content directly to Apple Maps”. In true Apple fashion, Apple Connect is pretty easy to use and nicely designed. You just sign in with your Apple ID (or create one if you don’t have one), search for your business in Apple’s database and verify that you are either the owner or the authorized representative via phone verification. Once you have verified the business, you can update the following data:
- Business Name
- Phone Number
- Map Location (you can move a pin on the map to fix)
- Place Status (i.e. is the business open or closed down)
- Categories (you can select 3 top level categories and a sub-category for each such as Pets > Animal Shelters). You can also suggest categories.
- Open Hours
- Business website
- Yelp page
- Facebook page
- Twitter page
As of May 24, 2015, Apple Maps Connect is available in the following countries:
The following info has not been updated since 2014:
The system is still a little buggy:
- The first 3 times I tried phone verification it took over thirty minutes to get a call. Each time you try, you are asked to wait 5-25 minutes before you try again. Justin Mosbach pinged me to say that he had had some success logging out and logging back in to reset the clock so you could try again immediately. My guess is the wait is totally dependent on call volume so for now try it at odd hours.
- Although I have verified my business, I was unable to submit the updates on the screen where you update your data, but when I went back to the main page for my business via the nav links, I was able to submit it.
One point of interest: There’s a promotion for iBeacon called “Maps Indoor”. You need to have annual visits of more than 1 million people to get in early so most of you can relax.
I read through the Apple Maps Connect Help section and have pulled out the good stuff here:
Apple Maps Connect FAQ
- Does it work for multi-location businesses?
If you have more than 100 locations, you can send Apple Maps a file with the updated info via firstname.lastname@example.org
- What countries are supported?
Apple Maps Connect currently only supports businesses in the U.S.
- How long will it take for your edits to go live?
Updates can take one week, but data flagged for additional verification may delay this process. You will receive an email notification when your edits are published.
- What if your business has moved or closed?
To use Maps Connect, you must be able to answer the business’ former telephone number. If you can answer it, please edit the profile to indicate that the place has moved or closed. If you cannot answer the former number, then please find the business via the Apple Maps app on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and click “Report a Problem” to notify Apple that the business is no longer open at that location.
- Verification Tip
Using an email address that matches the business’ website will speed up approval (eg. www.apple.com and email@example.com).
- Data Quality Guidelines
Apple only accepts businesses where it can confirm a physical presence. Businesses that may not be approved include: home-based businesses, businesses with temporary locations or without a physical address, or businesses that have not yet opened for business.
- What About Different Businesses at the Same Address?
Apple states you should create only one profile per physical location having a distinct purpose. Departments with clearly separate purposes may have a separate profile. My recommendation is make sure each department has a unique phone number.
- What About Businesses Like Lawyers With Multiple Practitioners?
You may create a profile for public-facing individuals if they have contact information that’s different than their business.
- How Do You Close a Business in Apple Maps?
Apple’s process currently requires that you must be able to still answer the closed business’ phone number before you can close a business. If you can no longer answer the former number, you can report a problem from the business profile on Apple Maps from your iPad, iPhone, or Mac.
- What Are The Rules For Business Names in Apple Maps
Your name should be listed as a customer would see it from your external sign. Your business name must include the brand (eg. Mike’s Chicken Shack) with an optional category (eg. Restaurant). Your business name must not include promotional phrases, location details, phone numbers, or other details that are not your true business name. In my tests Apple Maps seems highly sensitive to keywords in the business name so get ready for a lot of optional category SPAM.
- Can You Use P.O. Boxes?
Customers must be able to visit your business at your location. Do not enter PO Boxes or other addresses where your employees are not physically present during business hours.
- Can You Use a Forwarded Phone Number?
Redirected numbers will not be accepted. It’s unclear to me how they can enforce this as many local businesses redirect their phone numbers to call centers.
- Website Link
Apple states that the website you link to from your Apple Maps listing should be “optimized for mobile screens”.
- What If Your Submission Is Not Approved?
Apple will notify you and you can reply requesting a manual review.
- How Do You Update Your Business Photo on Apple Maps?
Photos currently come from Yelp so update your photo on Yelp.
- Why Can Your Business Data Change Even After You Have Claimed Your Listing?
Here’s what Apple says: “We receive profile information from many sources. It’s possible one of these sources believed that they had more recent information. If the information now displayed by Apple Maps is inaccurate, please resubmit an update.” This means that you will still need to make sure your data is in good shape at Apple Maps different business listings suppliers.
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.