Apple improves Maps search to boost pandemic response

Ask not what your business can do for you — ask what your business can do for your community.

Apple, iOS, iPhone, Maps, enterprise, coronavirus, COVID-19
Michael Simon/IDG

Apple continues to press forward with what seems to be a company-wide attempt to fight back against coronavirus. The latest? It's improved Maps search results to prioritize what people need today.

Little changes have a big impact

Apple Maps has a search feature that lets you find services local to where you are. If you’ve used it, you probably found things like gas stations at the top of the suggested list (unless you’ve started typing something else).

That’s changed slightly, with Apple tweaking its servers to prioritize the kinds of services we need as we work to survive the pandemic. Now, you’ll find food retailers, food delivery firms, pharmacies and emergency services at the top of the recommendation list.

This is only one of what seem to be dozens of tweaks, changes and strategies emerging from within the company during these times.

In comparison to the many other investments Apple is making, it may seem like a small thing. But quickly getting information about services like these could make a difference.

It’s also a way for Apple to engage in some form of conversation with its users, showing that it is working to help people where they are. It also gives Apple’s Maps teams a chance to feel that they are doing something constructive to help. Google has done something similar with its maps.

Your people want the chance to get involved

Giving your teams the chance to get involved matters. Enterprises are made of people. Your staff, partners, customers and suppliers are people. We're all being impacted at this time.

If you watch the enterprise technology space, you must have seen the increased focus around “soft skills” in an increasingly automated age. You must also have been aware of the multitude of reports praising omnichannel experiences, brand authenticity and the cultural shift (particularly among millennials) towards businesses and ideas that deliver meaning and purpose.

These trends were already transforming business engagement across most industries pre-pandemic. Those changing attitudes seem likely to intensify in future.

While it’s way too early to talk about recovery, given we have no reliable vaccine and no exit strategy available to us, human nature insists we retain belief that recovery will come.

When it does, the people who drive your business will want to feel not only that things can enter some new phase of normal, but also that they have been empowered to help support themselves and the wider community through the emergency.

What can you do today?

I’ve developed a sense that people across Apple have looked inward during the crisis and that its teams have turned to analyze how the products and services they work on can be improved to help boost response.

This extends to its partner relationships. That’s why Apple is supporting musicians with a $50 million advance royalty fund, and why it has created dedicated sets of resources across most of its services – you can even ask Siri to check your symptoms if you are concerned.

The response is not for Apple alone to deliver. This is a chance for every enterprise to ask itself what customers need during the current crisis, and how their business can help them get it.

To paraphrase a great man, John F. Kennedy:

"Ask not what your business can do for you — ask what your business can do for your community."

The conclusions don’t have to be huge – those tweaks in Apple Maps aren’t huge – but whatever constructive enhancements you do make will be noted by your customers, employees and partners. Taking positive action will also help empower/motivate the increasingly isolated remote working teams across your business.

It’s the right thing to do.

And this is your chance to do it.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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