You may hate Apple Maps, but the Yelp integration is something to love

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Twitter one year. Facebook the next. Whoever Apple chooses to befriend and integrate into its popular iOS platform becomes the immediate beneficiary of massive attention — and maybe fortune as well.

Such may very well be the case for Yelp, which is a featured partner in Apple’s Maps application.

In iOS 6, released Wednesday, Yelp’s business reviews are cooked into the controversial Apple Maps experience, and these are now instantly accessible to hundreds of millions of iOS users. Note that Apple has sold 400 million iOS devices to date.

“Yelp’s integration with Apple maps is now available on iOS 6 on all iPads and iPhones — from the new iPhone 5 back to the iPhone 3GS — and in 17 of the countries where Yelp has a presence,” Yelp’s director of business development Mike Ghaffary said in a blog post.

In Apple Maps, a typical search for coffee, spas, food, libations, entertainment, and so on returns a collection of places all tied to their Yelp business pages with each showing their Yelp-star rating on the map (as pictured above). A click on any business brings a dynamic and glossy business page with a rotating cover photo, business info, Yelp reviews, and photos sourced from Yelp. A person can also click to check in at the location, add a photo, or leave a venue tip all through the Yelp integration.

For all its faults (no street view, transit directions, and so on), Apple Maps, with the help of Yelp, gets the places experience just right. Yelp data in Apple Maps is both fetching and functional; the marriage of maps and Yelp-enriched business listings makes for a stunning experience that pumps up the volume on the usefulness of Yelp’s service. Google+ Local mobile business pages, by comparison, appear drab.

As a result, Yelp, as a young public company with an uncertain future tied to local advertising, has received an Apple-sized boost that could buoy its business for years to come.

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