In an open apology letter two years ago, Tim Cook vowed that Apple would work “nonstop” to rehab its disappointing Maps app. His promise turned out to be mostly hot air. Apple’s wonky navigation app is still largely lost.
But hopefully not for much longer. Not if you, the American small-business owner, step up and do your part.
That’s right, Apple wants you to help improve its rinky-dink Maps app by manually adding your company — and a bunch of its juicy defining data — to the clunky app’s local business listings. And, to give you a leg up in getting the job done, the Cupertino tech titan has just quietly rolled out a new (and thankfully free) self-service data entry portal called Apple Maps Connect.
It’s win-win: Apple sharpens a notoriously dull navigation tool and, in a few keystrokes (including your Apple ID and password), you get to add, edit and basically control your company’s information within it. The biggest benefit for business owners, in theory at least: More local customers delivered directly to your doorstep, er, if Apple Maps can actually get them there.
SearchEngineLand reports that the DIY service is only available to small business owners in the U.S. for now, though Apple plans to eventually include additional countries “soon.” If your company’s location is already listed on Apple Maps, no worries. You can use Apple Maps Connect to edit and flesh out your existing listing.
Apple Maps Connect users can also add their company’s website URL, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp pages to their profiles. Also, according to9to5Mac, if your business attracts at least 1 million visitors annually and you pump out WiFi all through your establishment, you can also use the tool to sign up for iBeacon, Apple’s Bluetooth-powered location system that allows retailers to offer special discounts and incentives to in-store shoppers with iPhones and iOS devices.
Apple isn’t the only Silicon Valley heavyweight to crowdsource location and mapping data. Waze, a popular social navigation app that Google scooped up for a cool $1 billion last year, relies on data supplied by its 50 million users to enhance directions on-the-fly and keep drivers posted about nearby traffic and road hazards in real-time. Apple culls data for Maps from Waze as well.
Here’s how to add your company to Apple Maps in eight quick steps:
1. Go to https://mapsconnect.apple.com/.
Log in with your Apple ID and password. If you don’t have an Apple ID, you’ll have to get one. There’s no way around it.
2. Select your relationship to your business.
You’ll be prompted to do this on the Add a New Business Page, which you’ll be automatically directed to after you log in. You can either select “I’m the business owner or “I’m authorized by the business owner.”
3. Enter your basic business details.
This is where you key in your business name, primary business phone number and business address.
4. Verify your business phone number.
You will be prompted to allow Apple to call the number you supply. The call will provide you with a PIN code from Apple. If needed, you can opt to “Verify Later.”
5. Confirm your business location.
There are three categories to choose from, each with several business types within, from “Accountants” to “Video/Film Production” and just about every imaginable company type in between. If you don’t see a category that fits, you can suggest one.
6. Confirm your hours of business.
Demarcate the hours you’re open from Apple’s list of seven days and you’re set. If you’re open 24 hours, there are checkboxes for that, too.
7. Add your company website and social media accounts.
Simply type or cut, copy and paste the URLs for them into the fields in the Add More Details section.
8. Review your business information.
To confirm that everything is kosher, click “OK” and you’re done. New listings should appear within Apple’s Maps app within a week at most. If additional verification is required, expect to hear from Apple soon.