Greg Morris

The Case For Native Apple Maps Reviews

Ever noticed on Apple maps that more and more reviews are appearing for places you want to visit? Since 2015 Apple has been pushing to make their stock mapping app much more useful for its users. Granted, it couldn’t have gotten much worse, but Apple realises the power in making your device more useful and engaging for their users.

Now comes the time they must open up and Maps, allow customers to make alterations much easier - and most importantly create reviews inside Apple Maps.

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There are numerous social media posts and Reddit threads saying similar things. Reviews and photos of points on a map, doesn’t have to be a business, are one of the most helpful things available - after navigation of course. It helps people find what they need and also get a good idea of the experience if they visit.

Many a time I’ve searched on Google Maps for a park in the local area to take the kids, and scrolled through the pictures to see what is there. This is times 100 when looking for somewhere to eat, drink, or anything really, users need to know what this place is actually like. Downloading another app to do this just isn’t going to cut it.

There is also a massive disparity between review based on your country. The US still relies heavily on Yelp, while the UK leans on Trip Advisor, so it’s more challenging to know where the data is coming from and how reliable it is. Apple must control this from start to finish (as they so love to do) and aid its users more by allowing all of its customer base to review every point of interest in Apple Maps quickly. Offering a simple incentive to begin with when users upload pictures and reviews, similar to Google Local Guides, give Apple a tremendous kick start and opens map reviews up to over a billion users.

Pulling this in from other places is one thing, but if you’ve ever known the pain of waiting for ordinance survey or any traditional service to even mark a new street on the maps is a horrible experience. All fo a sudden you have a billion people updating and making the whole world for you.

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This is yet another thing for Apple to delve into and manage. With increasing criticism surrounding their foray into services and subscriptions, Apple is doomed if they do and damned if they don’t. Their insistence on controlling every aspect of their hardware and software from start to finish means that they often neglect users needs and also software stability.

Regardless of being managed by different teams, if attention is taken away from more critical areas, then a move into map reviews seems pointless. Google already found out the hardware that maintaining user-generated map changes and improvements can become untenable, and arguably the only reason them support maps is to sell adverts to companies. A business model that no longer interests Apple.

Pulling in data from Trip Advisor and services like OpenStreetMap is the easiest way to gain masses of data with minimal investment or development. Policing reviews is a complicated process, one that Google has pulled back from, so opening maps data up is not without its downsides. Do the server-side costs, review work and the general hassle make it worthwhile?