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

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 healthcare professionals and the government, so that they can download information and see if people are staying indoors or are moving about more freely than recommended. 

Apple says 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


“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.”

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

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