Tech

Apple is gathering data from Apple Maps to show how well people are social distancing

Key Points
  • Apple on Tuesday launched a new tool that shows how well people are following social distancing guidelines.
  • It gathers anonymous data from Apple Maps and works similarly to what Google is doing to show trends from Google Maps.
  • Apple said the information it gathers isn't tied to any Apple ID, so it doesn't know what each individual person is doing.
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, at the 2019 DreamForce conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Nov. 19, 2019.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple on Tuesday launched a new tool that shows how well people are following social distancing guidelines. It gathers anonymous data from Apple Maps and works similarly to what Google is doing to show trends from Google Maps.

You can plug in a city or a region and see a graph of how much people are moving in that area. It's tailored specifically for health-care professionals and the government, so they can download information and see if people are staying indoors or are moving about more freely than recommended. 

Apple said it generates the information for its new Covid-19 Mobility Tool by "counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions."

Here's an example from the new tool, which shows a drop-off in requests for driving, walking and transit directions in New York City since March:

Apple Mobility Trends chart
Apple

"The data sets are then compared to reflect a change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world," Apple said in a release. "Data availability in a particular city, country, or region is subject to a number of factors, including minimum thresholds for direction requests made per day."

Apple said the information it gathers isn't tied to any Apple ID, so it doesn't know what each individual person is doing. It said it will update the information daily so that governments, health-care professionals and the public have the most recent data available.

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