Apple has introduced
a new search API that allows developers to offer map-based addresses (location) and points of interest (POI) through Apple's maps servers, within their own apps. The API is available through Apple's Map Kit Framework. This essentially means that developers will be able to build local search apps around Apple's maps.
Apple joins the league of Google which offers a similar Google Places API to developers. Other notable players offering similar APIs are OpenStreetMaps and Foursquare. Before iOS 6, Google maps were the default set of maps for the iOS platform, so developers could easily integrate the Google Places API in their apps for returning location and point-of-interest search results. It's noteworthy that Google's Places API can only be used in conjunction with Google's Map tiles. This changed after iOS 6 when Apple introduced its own maps and developers could no longer use the Google Places API, and had to rely on other providers.
It looks like Apple wanted to make its location and mapping solutions feature complete so that developers did not have to look for other options while building apps for the platform. Both Google and Nokia offer richer location and mapping solutions compared to Apple, at this point in time. But with the move, Apple gets a chance to generate developer interest, as its maps evolve over time. Apple's maps have been panned for inaccuracies and lack of data, but when it does expand and iron out these deficiencies, it will have more developer mindshare, following this move.