Apple tapping retail employees to improve Maps?

Apple is allegedly crowd-sourcing its retail army to help improve iOS Maps, if a pair of reports out this morning are to be trusted. A pilot program, allegedly voluntary for employees, would have a team of ten employees at one store dedicate 40 hours of staff time per week toward manually examining melted bridges, street addresses that are off and other Maps inaccuracies related to their respective areas…

First, Gary Allen of ifoAppleStore tweeted this morning:

So far it’s voluntary: Apple retail store managers are asking store employees to report iOS 6 Maps app errors to help improve the database.

That was unexpected, I must admit.

Shortly after, MacRumorswrote:

MacRumors has learned that 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.

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.

The publication couldn’t detail how employees will examine the data: using manual side-by-side comparisons with Google Maps data, in-person verification, by taking advantage of algorithms to highlight areas with possible flaws or a combination of these.

Apple unusually recommended Maps alternatives in the App Store “while we’re improving Maps”, following a recent CEO apology.

In the meantime, it’s been asserted recently that Google is planning to release Street View as an iOS web app.

Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg noted in his review that the search firm could formally unveil the software as early as tomorrow.

What do you think of this initiative?

Isn’t Apple doubling down on Maps indeed?