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Apple unveils Maps tool showing activity changes during Covid-19 pandemic

The tool uses anonymous data from the company’s Maps app and shows the volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities. It covers major cities and 63 countries or regions.
The tool uses anonymous data from the company’s Maps app and shows the volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities. It covers major cities and 63 countries or regions. (REUTERS)

The tool uses anonymous data from the company’s Maps app and shows the volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities. It covers major cities and 63 countries or regions.

Apple Inc. launched an online tool that shows how people are moving around during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tool uses anonymous data from the company's Maps app and shows the volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities. It covers major cities and 63 countries or regions.

"This mobility data may provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities and may also be used as a foundation for new public policies," Apple said in a statement on Tuesday.

Also read: Apple, Google Covid-19 contact tracing to require verification

Apple stressed that this information isn't tied to users' identities, and noted that its Maps app doesn't keep a record of where people have been. The data are generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions. Those data sets are then compared to reflect any changes in activity, starting from Jan. 13.

The online tool shows an 89% decline in users seeking public transit directions in New York City since early March and a 46% decline in driving directions in Hong Kong since the end of January. The tool doesn't appear to have information about activity in mainland China.

On Friday, Apple announced a contact tracing partnership with Google that it plans to rollout in mid-May.

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