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iOS Maps Goes On Location With Yelp

By Rachelle Dragani MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jun 26, 2012 5:00 AM PT

Apple's upcoming, self-made Maps app for iOS will include a check-in feature that ties in with review site Yelp, further integrating social networking and location-based services into iOS 6, according to a report from Bloomberg.

iOS Maps Goes On Location With Yelp

The new integration will allow iPhone users to check in right on Apple's Maps screen rather than access the site via Yelp's separate app.

Yelp provides user reviews of restaurants, bars and other businesses. In 2010, it launched a check-in feature on its mobile app. Sites such as FourSquare and Facebook offer similar services. Locations such as hair salons or restaurants can offer rewards and special deals to users who check in to the location, thereby providing the business with more exposure.

A partnership between Yelp and iOS 6 could help Yelp compete in location-based service.

The feature is reportedly included in screenshots in an Apple developer kit given to programmers earlier this month.

Apple Breathing New Life Into Maps

Apple unveiled its new Maps app at its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, breaking its ties with Google Maps, its previous default map service. The new, in-house Apple Maps will feature 3D and flyover map views. And The new features will also have additional Yelp integration - Siri, the iPhone's voice-activated personal assistant, will provide restaurant recommendations based on locations that contain Yelp reviews.

Apple's main focus on Maps is to go local, Larry Orman, executive director at GreenInfo Network, told MacNewsWorld. That is the key focus in Web mapping innovation now, he said. A smartphone can be a great tool to connect to the rest of the world, but the biggest use -- and the biggest focus for mobile advertisers -- is within a user's small physical radius.

"Web mapping for mobile is a big deal and getting bigger," he said. "Over time, smartphones will extend a user's geographic awareness far beyond what it is now, enabling users to 'see through' the physical space around them. This will mostly be in immediate areas -- a block, a quarter mile, etc."

Location-Based Services on the Rise

Integrating with websites that can tie in a mobile phone user to the commercial spaces around them can be a potential moneymaker going forward, Matt Sheehan, principal & senior geospatial developer at WebMapSolutions, told MacNewsWorld.

"I think the interesting part of this announcement is that Apple are potentially going to shake up the consumer-focused location-based services sector," he said. "That's clearly their focus. "

That focus on taking mobile maps to the next level is one way that the new services will be able to compete with main maps competitor Google, said Sheehan, a company that has provided both consumer and business app geo-tools. But whether or not checking into Yelp via a map will become the next social networking phenomenon remains to be seen, said Sheehan, since competitors other than Google are also clamoring to get into the space.

"Time will tell," he said. "No doubt the location-based services market is where we are seeing money focused. FourSquare were early into the game. Now we are seeing a flood of small companies entering the location-based services space. A few with great ideas, but too many resembling what became dot-com busts during the dot-com bubble burst."

With Apple's iOS 6 infrastructure already in place, though, even if the service doesn't catch on right away, it is still positive movement forward within the Web mapping industry, Sheehan said.

"Their targeting of the location-based sector, with announcements like today's, will raise the bar on the quality of services provided and will inject a healthy dose of new innovation," said Sheehan.

Neither Apple nor Yelp returned our requests for comment.

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