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.