Apple is now publishing public web pages for landmarks and POI in its Apple Maps database: here’s one such place. The website link shows details about the place such as location, name, telephone number and reviews. The design is identical to the cards in the iOS 10 Maps app.
When on an Apple platform, these URLs appear to act as deep links into the native Maps app. If viewing in Chrome or on a non-Apple device like Android, the fallback webpage is loaded. The purpose for these URLs is unclear, but it may possibly foreshadow a larger move by Apple to offer its own online mapping service to compete with Google Maps on the web.
It’s unclear exactly what purpose these new web pages are supposed to serve. They look like sharing links but they do not seem to be generated by the current version of the iOS or macOS native Apple Maps applications.
Right now, these URLs can be found by using the Safari Suggestions feature in Sierra. Search for a POI in the address bar and nearby results are displayed.
Selecting one of these opens the new Maps URL in a tab. Here’s another Apple Maps web page for the John Hancock Center, via Alan Miller. It is plausible these pages exist solely for the Safari Suggestions feature, loading the results inline to the browser.
For reasons unknown, sometimes the links open the native apps on Apple platforms and sometimes it opens in the web page. Each page includes a ‘Open Maps’ shortcut to load the placemark in the native app.
Earlier in the year, a widget on Apple’s WWDC site indicated that Apple was working on new web APIs for Apple Maps. This has yet to transpire as a third-party integration point but Apple continues to use it on its own pages. The widget is visible on the right hand side of these new preview sites.
What do you think? Does Apple want to bring Apple Maps to the web in a big way?