Apple’s Big Pivot with Apple Maps Takes Aim at Google Maps
Apple is making a big move to turn Apple Maps into a ratings/review destination. As reported in 9to5 Mac, the latest iOS roll-out will make it possible for people to rate and post photos of businesses directly on Apple Maps. This update will help position Apple as a stronger player in the feedback economy that is powered by customer ratings and reviews.
The News about Apple Maps
- Apple’s iOS 14, to be rolled out at some point in 2020, will change how Apple publishes ratings, reviews and user-generated photos on Apple Maps. Apple already publishes customer ratings and reviews of businesses and user-generated photos by pulling the content from sites such as Foursquare, TripAdvisor and Yelp. But this process is clumsy for users — and not ideal for Apple — because the company loses control over the user experience.
- A leaked image of iOS 14 beta 6 reveals that users will soon be able to provide a simple rating of a business location directly on Apple Maps with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down icon. For a location, users will be able to rate products and services; and give an overall recommendation.
- Based on available information, we don’t know if Apple will allow publication of customer reviews, per se, or whether that deeper-level content will continue to be outsourced from sites such as Yelp. But we’re monitoring this situation closely.
- Apple will be able to identify which phone users are actually visiting businesses, which will decrease the likelihood of fake ratings tarnishing the experience. Per 9to5Mac, “Apple is using on-device machine learning to present POI (points of interest) rating opportunities when it sees that someone has visited a place several times. The company will also be doing some checks to try and prevent abuse, such as only accepting ratings from people that have physically visited the place.”
- Based on a user’s usage history, Apple will suggest photos to share for a business location, too.
Why the News Matters
- Apple has over 50% market share in the U.S. among smartphone owners. We should expect any Siri search to surface the ratings Apple is collecting first as well as using them for ranking purposes in iOS search results. The same will hold true for reviews should Apple incorporate them into the experience.
- Even though Google Maps continues to command a sizable lead over Apple Maps in terms of usage, Apple Maps has improved its functionality tremendously since launch, and has kept pace with Google Maps with new features.
- This move is a blow to Yelp. Yelp has been on a downward trajectory for years. Fewer people are using its app and site, which means their reviews are becoming less and less visible to users. Apple is now making Yelp even less influential.
What Businesses Should Do about Apple Maps
- Mind your Apple Maps information. Prepare for what’s next by ensuring that your location information is accurate and your content is up to date. The new iOS 14 experience will likely result in more people viewing your location as Apple encourages them to rate it.
- Watch for ratings (and possibly reviews) as they begin to trickle in. Be ready to incorporate the data and learn from it.
- Pay attention to your visual story. Publish high-quality images of your business on Apple Maps. And be vigilant for user-generated photos. As we’ve discussed, user-generated photos are not always flattering to a business, and it can be difficult for a business to have them removed (at least with Google). We’ll monitor the situation closely to learn about how Apple will manage the process, too.
Meanwhile, we will make necessary changes to our own platform accordingly. Check this space for more information.