Apple Maps today acquires a new tool that will allow the more than decade-old service to better compete with Google: it will now allow business owners to update and manage their own information on the platform, including key details such as opening hours and location, photos, logos, special offers and promotions, and more. To do this, the company is launching a new web portal called Apple Business Connect, which allows businesses to manage their presence on Apple’s 1.5 billion devices from a single dashboard.
The service is slow to come for Apple Maps. Although first launched in 2012, the mapping platform for years relied on a simplified system, Apple Business Register, to update Maps listings with corrected information. And it leveraged third-party data from partners like Foursquare, Yelp, and Tripadvisor, to provide users with other business insights, ratings, and reviews. By comparison, Google has been allowing business owners to manage their listings since 2005, although its product, now called Google Business Profiles, has undergone many name changes since then.
Apple says it won’t be removing its integrations with Yelp when it launches Apple Business Connect. Customers will be able to see Yelp photos and reviews in business cards and can choose Yelp as a supplier to place an order or view a restaurant menu, for example. However, the new system will allow business owners to fill in their listings with the important details they are missing, resulting in richer, more detailed and more up-to-date listings.
After going through a verification process, business owners will be able to update their business card with basic information such as hours of operation, phone numbers, address and more, including a page “about”, as well as with the logo and photos of their company. For the first time, they can also update the business category and even add subcategories to help Maps users find their business when searching. And they can customize the information that appears in the “Good to know” section of their listing, which includes helpful information such as whether a place is “good for kids”, has “free Wi-Fi”, offers a “free delivery”, is “wheelchair accessible”, etc.
If the location on the list is wrong, the owner can also move the pin on the map to a more accurate location.
Additionally, some business listings on Apple Maps have an “Action” button that allows a customer to perform some kind of action, such as booking a hotel room with Booking.com, ordering groceries with Instacart or, Recently, find parking. spot with SpotHero. With Apple Business Connect, the business owner will now be able to add custom actions like these for themselves.
Listings can also, for the first time, be customized to display special offers and time-limited incentives, such as dining offers or tickets to a show. These updates, or “showcases,” can include explanatory text, a photo, and even a personalized action for customers to take. Their use is free.
Apple will work with partners, including Walmart, to improve its business cards in new ways as well. For example, customers visiting the Walmart Place Card will be able to access a “text to shop” feature by pressing a “message us” button in the app. They can then start typing in Messages for Business, the service that lets customers connect with a business through iMessage.
After verification, business owners will also be able to designate other team members who are authorized to update their information and can configure their account to update multiple locations, if needed.
When owners use Apple Business Connect to make updates, they see a live preview on screen so they know what their listing will look like before it goes live.
While up-to-date business information is the main reason to interact with the product, Business Connect will also offer insights to help them learn how their place brand is performing over time. These can be viewed in an insights dashboard where they can learn how customers find their business and how they interact with the location map.
While many Apple device owners still prefer using Google Maps over Apple Maps for a number of reasons, Apple stresses that updated location maps won’t just live in the Maps app itself. These updates will flow through Apple’s ecosystem, improving business listings in other places like Siri Spotlight, Apple Wallet, Safari, and more.
While Apple today says it has no immediate plans to monetize this system to allow owners to elevate their listings in any way, such as ads, Business Connect platform seems to be setting the stage for some sort of future effort in this area. Apple has shown increased interest in the digital advertising market in recent years and disrupted the Facebook-Google duopoly. Elsewhere on mobile, Apple’s privacy changes have helped boost its own advertising business, according to reports. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple consider an angle on the search ad market as well, especially if it could leverage its iOS platform and various features, such as Siri Spotlight, to help it along. of road.
Apple Business Connect is launching in countries around the world starting Wednesday, initially in the following languages: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.