Apple Releases Mobility Data For Apple Maps

Image via Apple 
In Apple Maps, there is now a trends tool from Apple that shows the mobility data from the time before and during the coronavirus outbreak. The mobility data is measured by aggregated data from iPhone users, collected by Apple Maps to detail the impact on transportation by car, foot and public transit globally. Availability for the data is controlled to a number of factors including the thresholds for Maps turn-by-turn directions requests in a daily ratio.

For this tool, Apple respects the privacy of every iPhone user in the company’s mobility data. The Cupertino company depicts in their statement,
“[Apple] Maps does not associate mobility data with a user’s Apple ID, and Apple does not keep a history of where a user has been. Using aggregated data collected from Apple Maps, the new website indicates mobility trends for major cities and 63 countries or regions. The information is generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions. The data sets are then compared to reflect a change in the volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world. 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 has built privacy into the core of Maps from the beginning. Data collected by Maps, like search terms, navigation routing, and traffic information, is associated with random, rotating identifiers that continually reset, so Apple doesn’t have a profile of your activities and searches. This enables Maps to provide a great experience while protecting user privacy.” 
The data Apple collects for mobility analytics is similar to the algorithms that are used in the methodology of the Sign In with Apple feature in iOS 13 and macOS Catalina. Collected data from Apple for the mobility tool goes through a set of aimlessly resetting identifiers, which is similar to how Apple generates unique email addresses when iPhone users use Sign In with Apple with their Apple IDs to log into websites and apps. This prevents exploiters from tracking down every iPhone user based on location, movements and Apple ID information.

In terms of the efforts Apple is dedicated to supporting the COVID-19 crisis, the company has already sourced and donated over 20 million face masks for the healthcare professionals working on the frontlines globally. Apple already brought their teams from the company and their suppliers to design and manufacture face shields and masks. The teams are shipping a million face masks every week for the hospitals that are facing scarcities of PPE. On the other hand, Apple recently developed another COVID-19 app in affiliation with Stanford Medicine in the Bay Area for first responders to assess their symptoms and schedule coronavirus testing appointments if necessary.

For all of the iPhone users staying at home, and working in essential services and businesses, Siri now answers coronavirus-related questions from iPhone users based on information from the CDC. The service also offers Siri Audio Briefs, where iPhone users can receive the latest coronavirus news and information in podcast episodes from trusted, fact-checked news outlets. Other than the mobility data collection in Apple Maps, the latter service also sorted the list of services from essential businesses such as restaurants, urgent care centers, doctors, supermarkets and coronavirus testing centers rather than listing the types of businesses alphabetically. The Cupertino company offered free training and help for educators, teachers and parents to help with the transition to distance learning with Apple products, ideas for fun activities that involve an iPad or iPhone for young children and one-on-one training.

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