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Coronavirus guidance – Apple Maps now sends targeted reminders

Apple has implemented a new feature in its Maps app to remind users to self-isolate after international travel.

As noticed by @kylesethgray on Twitter, Apple Maps will encourage users to be careful and read the CDC guidance if it suspects they have traveled to another country. The pop-up alert is a reminder to “stay home and watch your health for 14 days” and is triggered if Maps detects a recent visit to an airport.

This comes after Maps added a way to search for nearby COVID-19 testing locations in the US and Puerto Rico. Apple also released COVID-19 mobility trends based on routing request data from Maps users.

Apple is well-known for its privacy considerations in its native apps, with Maps a particularly good example of how on-board intelligence and anonymized data requests can ensure nobody but you has access to your whereabouts. Though not officially confirmed by Apple, it’s extremely likely similar measures have been taken here, with any travel checks taking place on-device and not on Apple’s servers.

Apple’s recent health alerts (including the hand-washing reminders on Apple Watch) may be a little on the patronizing side, but if they can help keep people safe it’s arguably a worthwhile trade-off. The good news is that these alerts are tailored to travelers and easy to dismiss, so most people won’t be bothered by them at all.