Apple reportedly tapping some of 40,000 retail store staff for iOS 6 Maps app error reports, advice

“Apple is piloting a program to tap into its vast number of retail store employees to help improve the company’s new Maps app for iOS 6,” Eric Slivka reports for MacRumors.

“Details on the initiative remain unclear, but multiple sources have indicated that participating stores will dedicate 40 hours of staff time per week, distributed among a number of employees, to manually examine Apple’s mapping data in their areas and submit corrections and improvements,” Slivka reports. “It is unknown exactly what procedures will be used to examine the data, whether it simply be side-by-side comparisons with Google Maps data or if more sophisticated efforts such as in-person verification will be used.”

Slivka reports, “Changes to maps will reportedly be submitted through a dedicated internal portal on Apple’s systems.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Okay, now that is genius! While we have our doubts that Maps can ever shake off the PR damage it has received to date — Jobs, how we wish Apple had introduced it as a “work in progress” and applied a “beta” tag to it prior to launch (by now, Apple likely does, too) — this is a very smart way to quickly get a large number of personnel on the case identifying errors and submitting fixes. If any company can figure out how to erase self-inflicted PR damage massively compounded by the FUD machine banging around in the echo chamber, it’s Apple. Maps will have to be three times as good as Google Maps to get a fair shake, but Apple is certainly capable of achieving that as Google Maps is far uglier and definitely nowhere near perfect.

Boy, this effort to utilize the vast retail staff is really a genius move! Go, Apple go!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

24 Comments

    1. It is already part of the map app. I just corrected my corporate address.
      • Put a pin on the image of the building ( I am in Hybrid view )
      • Touch the blue arrow button at right of drop pin.
      • At bottom of pop up window choose “Report a Problem” button.
      • Make changes to be reviewed by Apple for correction.

      This is a great way to get involved in upgrading Apple’s map app!

      1. Apple could step it up and let the iOS device users submit street view pictures too. They know the source, the GPS direction and location. If they let us correct and push the correct info for just one week to the servers. We could have the map fixed. After that week, Apple can tighten up and review the map revisions that are submitted at a more controlled way.

        Any device submitting malicious info will have that map correction option removed only to be reset by an Apple employee at an Apple store.

      2. Also, why is “Manufacturing” not one of the almost a hundred category options in the map app correction? We still make things in the USA and when it is used to map the rest of the world. They make stuff too.

  1. Brilliant, indeed! Get your least-paid staff to do most tedious part of the job of updating the mapping database.

    One other thing may still remain behind Google, and that is searchability / findability of data. As I said in the other thread, thanks to Google’s years of doing search, they became pretty good at figuring out what you’re searching for, regardless of how much you butcher the spelling or phrase your search.

    One thing remains certain: Apple’s Maps is significantly better application (if we disregard, for the moment, the quantity and accuracy of map data) than Google’s, or any others. After having used this Maps app for some time, it is positively annoying to watch Google’s map tiles slowly appear on screen one by one; if you’re in a borderline zone for data coverage, you may end up waiting for that one tile that you really need, and it may never even load. Touch the zoom and whole new set of tiles has to download all over again, and so it goes for every zoom in or out. Because it is so much less data-gobbling, Apple’s Maps practically never shows you map tiles. Only when you zoom out could you possibly see a tile of the portion of the map you had zoomed out from, while the surrounding area is being loaded. But because all of it is vector-based (so the files are small), it loads so quickly that, unless you are on a very slow part of some EDGE coverage, you don’t even have to wait for the data.

    I’m pretty confident that in about a year or so, this will be the best mapping solution on all levels.

    1. You think google’s good at searching? My experience with the old maps app has been horrible — I’ll search for “restaurant” for example, and it will only bring up places with “restaurant” in the name, not a list of eating places.

  2. Now, if they could build a browser-based mapping site (maps.apple.com?), where users could get to the same maps from desktop, this would significantly increase the volume of usage and, if Apple chooses to allow that, the feedback regarding places, locations and accuracy.

  3. As a user I’ve already tried to report errors in my immediate locality, and move pins to the correct location. I see no evidence that anyone – Apple, TomTom, whoever is listening. Moreover moving pins on the iPhone screen is a nightmare.

    So this could be a positive move, and at the least better than nothing, though whether morale in retail is currently high enough to make them ready to volunteer for this extra task, I doubt somehow.

    Apple should be bolder, and go for open crowdsourcing of the data, from Apple users, possibly employing new staff in each country/state to verify corrections as they come in. Set it up properly, and not on the cheap – and this looks like an effort at a free solution which is unworthy of Apple, particularly with its cash reserves and cash flow. The mapping is pretty good, it’s the data (in the UK at least) that sucks.

    1. “this looks like an effort at a free solution which is unworthy of Apple”

      That’s not what this is — it’s a way of tackling the problem quickly. If you’ve ever been involved in hiring, it takes a lot of time to find reliable people. By using its existing retail staff, Apple gets a large number of trustworthy people to help make *immediate* map improvements — and Apple probably doesn’t need to verify those corrections as thoroughly as those coming from random strangers like you or me since these corrections are coming from Apple employees.

      Also, since Apple Stores are located in prime locations, map corrections in those areas are especially vital (i.e. NYC).

      1. I can agree, but also think Tomcs does have a good point about “using” existing retail staff. While I do not claim to fully understand the internal workings at the Stores, it seems the Retail staff are worked pretty hard as it is for the level of compensation they currently receive, especially when you see Browett’s salary, lol!

    2. “… Moreover moving pins on the iPhone screen is a nightmare …”

      I thought this as well, but actually, it’s very simple but not that intuitive.

      Rather than attempting to ‘relocate’ a dropped pin, simply let the pin drop anywhere on the map and then press and hold where you wish the pin to be and it will automagically relocate to that location.

  4. I am already submitting my share of corrections.
    If Apple wants their Maps to look more “detailed,” they should add property lines, this is what really sets Google’s Maps apart and what I miss the most.

  5. Well, it’s better than nothing. Average users need to be given incentives to crowd-source the database. This method will have to do while Apple continues to cut corners to save money. Apple probably needs to get a full-time staff in addition to crowd-sourcing on this mapping project. I think it all comes down to how much longer does Apple want to suck Google’s hind tit. I had no idea that maps played such an important part to iOS’s ecosystem. It seems as though this map problem has brought an awful amount of unwarranted attention to Apple considering Apple is basically a hardware company.

    I still see Apple as a company with too much money sitting around idle when its reputation is at stake. Wall Street realizes this and its another reason why the stock is stagnating compared to other companies willing to spend money on multiple projects. I wouldn’t have guessed that Google was the number one mapmaker in the world and Apple at least should have gone after the number two mapmaker in the world, whatever company that may be. With so many mapmaking companies in the world available is this really the best that Apple could do with all that available cash on hand?

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