Apple may be turning to its retail employees to improve its new Maps app for iOS 6. Retail store employees are reportedly being asked to, on a volunteer basis, examine the mapping data for their area and submit corrections and improvements to Apple. Stores participating in the initiative will give 40 hours of staff time per week, which will be distributed across several employees. Exactly how the mapping data will be examined remains unclear, though MacRumors says that there may be small teams of employees in each store:
One source has indicated that a team of ten employees would be participating in the program at one store, with one of those employees being designated a "subject matter expert" to oversee the team and receiving training on how the team will operate. Changes to maps will reportedly be submitted through a dedicated internal portal on Apple's systems.
Apple’s Maps have received heavy criticism since their launch with iOS 6. The backlash prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to write a letter to customers, apologizing for the mistakes made in Maps, promising to make Maps better, and offering alternatives while Apple improved the product.
Data acquisition, aggregation, cleansing, and de-duplication are non-trivial tasks. Apple is dealing with a huge amount of sources, many of which format data in wildly different ways, and getting it all into a one coherent mapping product for customers is likely proving far more challenging than Apple estimated. But it's vital for Apple to correct errors quickly, since maps are an important feature for so many of its customers. Using teams of its own retail employees, who can contribute significant local knowledge to the effort, will allow Apple to do just that.
Have you seen any improvement to the iOS 6 Maps data in your area over the last week? Are locations showing up more accurately? Are points-of-interest showing the correct information?