Apple just announced the features of iOS 10, the next generation of the operating system for iPhones and iPad, and with it comes the next step in its slog to catch up with Google in local search. When users download the new software (starting in the fall), they should be able to make an Open Table restaurant reservation and order an Uber car right from the Apple maps on their mobile devices.
OK, so Google maps users have been able to make Open Table and Uber reservations since 2014. The bigger news announced at Apple’s WWDC developer conference this week is that Apple has opened its Maps platform to outside developers. Going forward, developers could program any number of local services to appear in Apple Maps. Over time, that will make Apple more competitive with Google. Apple also improved the look and feel of the maps for iOS 10 (one cool feature: remembering where you parked your car).
Ditto for Siri, the talking assistant built in to Apple devices, also opened up to third-party developers, meaning users some day could operate any app by voice, for instance to make reservations or make a payment. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are already ahead of Apple in pioneering voice.
And ditto again for Apple’s Messages app – users will be able to tap into other apps from the messaging interface, better positioning Apple to compete against Facebook and others betting heavily on messaging (see Facebook’s Future: Your Customer Service Bot).
Apple has one built-in advantage over competitors with its maps, literally. They are built into Apple mobile devices as the default tool. Apple controls half the smart phone market, and 60% of those smart-phone owners use Apple Maps. The company claims that its maps get 3.5 times more searches than an un-named #2, presumably Google.
Assume Apple will be an increasingly important player in local search and position your business to be Apple-friendly, starting with accurate information in the Apple Maps database. Your reputation management services vendor should be on top of this (our company, Dex Media, provides listing management). Or you can check the information yourself at Apple Maps Connect. For more tips, see Get Ready for Apple Local Search.
Image: iOS 10 map with restaurant reservations