Apple Maps Adds New Review Sources, Replacing Yelp Outside US In Many Cases

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Apple has added reviews content from TripAdvisor and Booking.com to Apple Maps. Spotted first by AppleInsider, the new review sources appear to be both for US and international locations, though predominantly outside the US.

Yelp reviews are still present, but appear to have been replaced for hotel and restaurant searches in most (though not all) international contexts. In the US, I wasn’t able to find TripAdvisor and Booking.com content except in isolated cases.

The new review sources show up in mobile results and on the desktop version of Apple Maps. Booking.com is being used for hotel reviews in most cases while TripAdvisor is used for restaurants.

Apple Maps Reviews

I conducted numerous searches for restaurants, museums and hotels in various US cities and outside the country. While there was a pattern there was also some inconsistency in terms of when Yelp reviews would appear vs. the other sources.

A search for “museums, London” delivers a list of results with Yelp reviews. But a search for “restaurants, London” shows results with TripAdvisor reviews. A query for “hotels, London” shows Booking.com reviews (above). In these cases, Yelp reviews have clearly been replaced by the other two sources — but why not for museums? TripAdvisor has excellent attractions coverage.

Apple Maps Reviews

Apple Maps Reviews

A search for “hotels, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey” shows category results with reviews provided by Yelp. However a search for “Days Inn in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey” (the example in the AppleInsider Article) shows an individual listing with TripAdvisor reviews. 

In this particular example there were no Yelp reviews for the Days Inn so it may be that Apple is trying to fill perceived holes in Yelp’s coverage. That doesn’t explain the wholesale replacement of Yelp in many international results.

Apple Maps Reviews

A search for “restaurants, Prague” or “restaurants, Mexico City” show Yelp results, while restaurant searches in most European capitals show TripAdvisor content. It’s not clear whether Yelp is simply better in these cities or whether Apple hasn’t yet gotten around to replacing the Yelp content.

It goes on: a search for “hotels, Vienna Austria” displays reviews from Booking.com while “museums, Vienna Austria” continues to show Yelp results.

Yelp has good European restaurant reviews coverage. However in a majority of cases Apple appears to have entirely replaced them with TripAdvisor reviews. Yet TripAdvisor probably has more comprehensive and better hotel reviews coverage than Booking.com. It strikes me as odd that Apple would use Booking.com instead of TripAdvisor for hotel reviews — unless the capacity to book directly through the latter is being valued. (TripAdvisor is predominantly a lead-gen site for other booking services.)

TripAdvisor has always been important to hotel operators but now it must become a new focus for restaurants outside the US (if it wasn’t already). And Booking.com gains new prominence among hotel review sites.

In my mind, there are two potential explanations for what’s going on. Apple is either expanding and diversifying its review sources globally for expanded coverage or Apple is specifically moving to limit its reliance on Yelp for an unknown reason. I suspect the former explanation is probably correct.

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