Greg Sterling shares the details of Apple's "Maps Connect" on Search Engine Land. It's basically a portal to help Apple build and maintain accurate local business listings:
This afternoon Apple notified us of a new self-service portal to add or edit local business listings: Apple Maps Connect. It’s intended for small business owners or their authorized representatives (though not agencies) to be able to quickly and easily add content directly into Apple Maps.
It also serves as a tool to advance Apple's indoor positioning initiative:
Apple is also soliciting interest in installing iBeacon at business locations through the Maps Connect site. However the criteria below show Apple’s target business profile for priority installation.
However, the portal didn't launch today, as is being widely reported. I first noticed the portal back in June. At that time it appeared to be primarily for Apple's indoor positioning initiative:
I think this is Apple’s first public-facing page for its indoor mapping initiative https://t.co/gvfJouH3P5
— Apple Spotlight (@applespotlight) June 11, 2014
The site was later updated in August:
Looks like Apple updated its Maps Connect website (looks much better now) https://t.co/gvfJouY6R5
— Apple Spotlight (@applespotlight) August 29, 2014
So although not entirely new, it appears that Apple is now actively promoting Maps Connect.
Update: Apple indicated to Greg Sterling that while parts of the portal were in operation, its functionality has expanded.