At the recent Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple made the announcement that it will drop Google Maps in its upcoming iOS 6 software release. Instead, the company will be offering its own proprietary mapping solution, complete with 3D models and turn-by-turn navigation.

Creating a mapping tool in-house is not a small task for Apple to take on, especially when you consider how much data is involved. Rather than try to do everything itself, Apple approached several companies to help develop its mapping application. Surprisingly, the company has decided not to include transit directions in its app by default. Instead, it will offer a way for developers to integrate this service into Apple Maps directly.

It’s clear that Apple has a very specific action plan for its Maps application. Let’s explore the significance of this move, along with several ways that local businesses can leverage the power of Apple Maps.

Get By With a Little Yelp From Your Friends

Last year, a check-in at the Apple campus by Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley and Holger Luedorf, the company’s head of business development, sent the tech press into a frenzy wondering if a partnership with Apple was in the works. At this point, it looks like whatever was discussed never materialized. One of the key features of Apple’s new Maps application is a deep integration with one of Foursquare’s competitors: Yelpf.

This is very significant to small businesses, especially those in the restaurant sector. Apple Maps, coupled with Siri and iOS 6, will deeply integrate Yelp in its local business data. Not only will Apple rely on Yelp for local business locations, it will also prominently feature Yelp information, reviews, and photos.

The integration doesn’t stop there. The iOS 6 platform also allows direct links into Yelp so that users can leave quick tips, reviews, and check-ins. With the iPhone representing 50 percent of the smartphone market, this is a huge competitive advantage for Yelp. Apple iPhone users with the latest hardware and software will be seeing Yelp content more than ever. This may mean that you need to spend more time curating and maintaining your company’s Yelp listing than previously expected.

Maps Gone Social

Yelp is not the only social feature integrated into iOS 6. Due to Apple’s tight integration with Twitter and Facebook, tweeting or updating Facebook about your business will now be as easy as finding it on a map. This likely means you’ll see a lot more people talking about your business on these social media platforms.

Other Opportunities

Also new to Apple Maps is OpenTable; both Maps and Siri will feature ways to make reservations for a restaurant using the company’s service. If you run a restaurant that is not using OpenTable, now is a good time to get on board.

The hole left by the lack of transit directions on Apple Maps may turn out to be an opportunity for some businesses. There appears to be a bustling market for train and bus tracking applications in many cities. For developers of these apps, there is a potential gold rush opportunity. Apple has said rather than building the feature into the application, when you search for transit directions the company will feature Transit Routing Apps from the App Store. For example, the Tribune Company launched its Red Eye app for iPhone — allowing Chicagoans to stay abreast of local news. It also includes a train and bus tracker in the app.

With Apple’s new system, it’s likely we’ll see a lot more third-party apps integrating with Apple Maps. For instance, fast food chain, Sonic, offers navigation features on its website to show you the closest Sonic locations on your road trip. Local businesses could do something similar, offering transit directions to their locations for any given city.

Apple’s new Maps features coming in iOS 6 are disruptive and will probably generate a lot of interest from the public. To prepare for the widespread adoption of this feature, it’s a good idea to optimize your company’s listing on Yelp, sign up for OpenTable, and think about strategies to leverage this powerful new service before it launches this fall.

Are you prepared for the launch of Apple Maps? Let us know in the comments below.