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Apple Maps changes reflect ‘new normal’ for millions

Apple is rejigging its Apple Maps app in order to meet the shifting priorities of users during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a change first spotted by iPhone Ticker, Apple has re-ordered the categories to place more essential services at the forefront.

So, for example, grocery stores now appear at the top of the list, while there’s a category for restaurants offering delivery services. There’s also a new category for medical supplies.

Prior to this shift, Apple had placed categories like gas stations, cafes and fast food offerings more prominently, but with large numbers of its user base now under some form of lockdown, people are likely to be seeking different things from the Maps app.

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These are positive steps for sure, but Apple hasn’t gone as far as Google in repurposing Maps for these trying times. Google Maps, for example, will tell users if a business has closed or has altered its operating hours during the pandemic. Apple Maps is still listing regular hours for those businesses, even if they’re closed down.

While Apple Maps now offers greater visibility for medical facilities, Google Maps goes a step farther by providing a warning for people to call a doctor before going out in public to address potential coronavirus symptoms.

Google is also providing data from Google Maps in an attempt to highlight where lockdowns are working and resulting in less movement from device owners, although there are some concerns over the privacy ramifications of Google tracking a society and monitoring its movements en mass (what else is new?).

That doesn’t mean to say Apple is slacking overall when it comes to the coronavirus response. The company has donated more than 20 million masks to frontline healthcare workers, is offering Apple Card owners the chance to defer payments, and has added a coronavirus questionnaire that’s available through the Siri voice assistant.