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Apple is Now Crowdsourcing Business Listings to Help Make Maps Better

Posted on the 23 October 2014 by Palmgear @PalmgearBlog

For years you’ve been able to report inaccurate or otherwise lacking information from Apple Maps listings. The company has also employed what’s known as “ground truth” personnel, people whose job it is to verify the company’s data. Now Apple’s putting some of that work in the hands of businesses that want to get information about particular locations into its Maps app. Today the company quietly launched Apple Maps Connect, a tool designed for business owners to both verify and submit new information about their locations, which is vetted with a phone call and PIN code to the business’ phone number.

Besides the usual things like address, phone number, and location, businesses have the option to add things like an official website, Yelp page, Facebook page, and Twitter handle. Apple already aggregates and displays some of these things on business listings, but this is could prove a useful if multiple stores in a chain have specific social media accounts or websites. Though Search Engine Land, which spotted the new page, notes that it’s currently difficult to use for companies with many locations, or data agencies that do this kind of upkeep work on a large scale.

Nobody wants to drive to a closed taco shop

Apple caught plenty of flack when Maps came out two years ago due to inaccurate listings, wonky 3D imagery, and driving directions that managed to leave some people stranded. The company has taken steps to improve it, as well as expand it to Mac users, though is nowhere near as transparent about its progress as rival Google. It’s also still criticized for some of its local business listings in some foreign countries, as well as not providing public transit directions. In an interview with Charlie Rose last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company was still investing in the service, though he didn’t provide specific details about what the company was up to.

Crowdsourcing mapping data has become standard practice, and something companies — including Apple — do to come up with real-time traffic data. It’s also one of the big reasons Google bought Waze last year, since the data from its 50 million users would improve the accuracy of Google Maps as well. For its part, Apple pulls data for Maps from a number of sources, including TomTom, DigitalGlobe, Waze, and the US government.


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