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Apple publishes Maps mobility data to aid COVID-19 struggle

Apple has published deeply interesting mobility data that shows how people’s walking, driving and public transit use has changed across the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re travelling a lot less

The information shows huge reductions in travel taken across most countries and larger cities globally.

In London, UK, people are using public transit 89% less frequently than they were before, the data shows; while in San Francisco people transit travel has fallen 84%.

Apple has published this information to provide government and health authorities with information that may help them make informed decisions during the pandemic, the company states.

How did it get this data?

Apple says it has generated this data from Apple Maps requests.

This information is aggregated and analysed in order to provide a fairly accurate representation into how people’s habits have changed.

“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 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,” it says in a press release.

Is the information private?

In line with the company’s usual commitment to privacy, Apple claims this information is anonymized. It does not associate mobility data with a user’s Apple ID, and does not keep a history of where a user has been.

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 movements and searches,” it says.

The idea is that you as a user get the information you need while your privacy remains protected.

What else is Apple doing?

The company has also confirmed some of the many other steps it is taking and continues to take in response to the pandemic:

  • It has sourced and donated over 20 million face masks for medics.
  • Apple is shipping over 1 million face masks each week.
  • It helped Stanford Medicine build a new symptoms checking app for first responders.
  • Siri Audio Briefs for COVID-19 provide the latest news and information about the pandemic through short podcasts from trusted news providers.
  • Siri can guide you through a symptoms checker.
  • Apple Maps now prioritizes grocery, food delivery and medical services.
  • Apple has put together a collection of telehealth apps on the App Store.
  • It has also provided a heap of content and services to help adapt to remote working and virtual learning.
  • The company has made available COVID-19 resources to keep people informed and help them take care of themselves.
  • And has, of course, teamed-up with Google for a new form of contact tracing.
  • It is also supporting an online benefit gig with Lady Gaga.
  • We know the company has taken a multitude of additional steps in addition to these.

You can explore Apple’s newly published Mobility Trends tools here.

Additional resources

I’ve written a selection of what I hope are useful stories to help you through current events. You can read them here:

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Apple improves Maps search to boost pandemic response

Apple continues to press forward with what seems to be a company-wide attempt to fight back against coronavirus, improving Maps search results to prioritize what people need today.

Little changes have a big impact

Apple Maps has a search feature that lets you find services local to where you are.

If you’ve used it you’ll probably have found things like gas stations at the top of the suggested list (unless you’ve started typing something else).

That’s changed slightly, with Apple tweaking its servers to prioritize the kinds of services we need as we work so hard to survive the pandemic.

Now you’ll find food retailers, food delivery firms, pharmacies and emergency services at the top of the recommendation list.

This is only one of what seem to be dozens of tweaks, changes and strategies emerging from within the company during these times.

In comparison to the many other investments Apple is making, it may seem a small thing, but getting information about services like these fast could make a difference.

It’s also a way for Apple to engage in some form of conversation with its users, showing that it is working to help people where they are. It also gives Apple’s Maps teams a chance to feel that they are doing something constructive to help. Google has done something similar with its maps.

Your people want the chance to get involved

Giving your teams the chance to get involved matters.

Enterprises are made of people. Your staff, partners, customers and suppliers are people. We’re all being impacted at this time.

If you watch the enterprise technology space, you must have seen the increased focus around “soft skills” in an increasingly automated age.

You must also have been aware of the multitude of reports praising omnichannel experiences, brand authenticity and the cultural shift (particularly among millennials) towards businesses and ideas that deliver meaning and purpose.

These trends were already transforming business engagement across most industries pre-pandemic. Those changing attitudes seem likely to intensify in future.

While it’s way too early to talk about recovery, given we have no reliable vaccine and no exit strategy available to us, human nature insists we retain belief recovery will come.

When it does, the people who drive your business will want to feel not only that things can enter some new phase of normal, but also that they have been empowered to help support themselves and the wider community through the emergency.

What can you do today?

I’ve developed a sense that people across Apple have looked into themselves during the crisis and that its teams have turned to analyze how the products and services they work on can be improved to help boost response.

This extends to its partner relationships.

That’s why Apple is supporting musicians with a $50 million advance royalty fund, why it has created dedicated sets of resources across most of its services – you can even ask Siri to check your symptoms if you are concerned.

The response is not for Apple alone to deliver.

This is a chance for every enterprise to ask itself what customers need during the current crisis, and how their business can help them get it.

To paraphrase a great man:

“Ask not what your business can do for you — ask what your business can do for your community.”

The conclusions don’t have to be huge – those tweaks in Apple Maps aren’t huge — but whatever constructive enhancements you do make will be noted by your customers, employees and partners. Taking positive action will also help empower/motivate the increasingly isolated remote working teams across your business.

It’s the right thing to do.

And this is your chance to do it.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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You Can Now Follow Local Guides on Google Maps

Google is putting its Local Guides front and center in an effort to make Google Maps more useful. Starting in a select number of cities, you’ll now be able to follow Local Guides on Google Maps in order to get better recommendations.

What Are Google’s Local Guides?

Google’s Local Guides are people who upload photos and write reviews of landmarks and businesses. Anyone can become a Local Guide, and there are now 120 million of them. Local Guides don’t get paid, but they do get points and perks for their efforts.

As anyone can sign up to be a Local Guide, some only offer the occasional insight. However, some Local Guides are passionate about helping people, and post lots of great content. And Google is rewarding that effort by making them minor celebrities.

How to Follow Local Guides on Google Maps

As detailed in a post on The Keyword, you can now follow Local Guides on Google Maps. Once followed, recommendations from these Guides will be displayed in the For You and Explore tabs. Giving you insights into the cities you either live in or are visiting.

The option to follow Local Guides on Google Maps is starting small. Initially, you’ll only be able to follow Guides located in Bangkok, Delhi, London, Mexico City, New York, Osaka, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, and Tokyo. However, more cities will be added over time.

The Local Guides you can follow will be featured in the aforementioned For You tab. You can then click on their profiles to see who they are and their recent reviews. And if their recommendations align with yours you can click Follow to follow them.

Other Google Maps Features Worth Trying

This feature adds an Instagram influencer element to Google Maps. If you find someone who tends to recommend the kind of restaurants and bars you frequent, you can then use their local knowledge to discover more places worth visiting.

This is just the latest in a long line of new features added to Google Maps recently. This includes detailed voice guidance for people with visual impairments and instant place name translations

Google Maps Can Now Translate Place Names

Google Maps Can Now Translate Place Names

Google Maps can now translate place names for you, making it easier to get around in foreign climes.
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designed to save you the hassle of opening Google Translate.

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Google Maps Can Now Translate Place Names

Google Maps can now translate place names for you, making it easier to get around in foreign climes. This should put an end to you trying and failing to pronounce tricky place names while the locals look at you like you’ve got two heads.

Google Maps has made it much easier to get around while visiting a new country. You open the app, type in where you want to go, and Google Maps will direct you there. However, things can be trickier if you need to hail a cab or ask someone which bus to catch.

Google Integrates Translate Into Maps

In an effort to solve this problem, Google is integrating Translate into Maps in a small way. As outlined in a post on The Keyword, Google Maps can now translate place names for you. And all without you ever having to leave the Google Maps app.

All you need to do is search Google Maps for the place you want to visit. Click on the entry, and look for the speaker button next to the place name. Click on that and Google will tell you how to pronounce the name in the language of the country you’re visiting.

If that wasn’t enough, you can then click “Get more translations” to open Google Translate (assuming you have it installed on your device). This allows you to get a translation for anything else you want to say, even if it’s just, “Thank you very much”.

This feature is being rolled out to Google Maps on Android and iOS this month (November 2019). Google Maps’ Translate integration will initially support 50 languages, with Google promising to add more languages in the future.

Download: Google Maps on Android | iOS

More Google Maps Features to Check Out

If you want to discover more ways Google Maps is helping people get around, Google Maps offers detailed voice guidance for people with visual impairments and Google Maps offers augmented reality directions

Google Maps Now Offers Augmented Reality Directions

Google Maps Now Offers Augmented Reality Directions

Google Maps’ Live View uses augmented reality (AR) directions to make it easier for you to get from A to B without getting lost.
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which add virtual signs to the real world.

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How to Save Favorite Places in Windows 10 Maps

The Windows 10 Maps loading screen with logo

With offline maps and traffic data, Windows 10 Maps is the perfect companion for mapping out long journeys. To help you get from point A to B, you can save your favorite locations to quickly bring up directions. Here’s how.

The Maps app in Windows 10 is pre-installed, ready for you to use. To open it, click on the Start button and search for “Maps,” find and click the Maps icon in your Windows Start menu tiles, or look for “Maps” in your installed programs list.

Adding your Home, Work, and Car Locations

You can access your favorite places in Windows Maps by clicking the “Saved Places” button in the Maps window. The button resembles a star-like icon in the top right.

In Windows 10 Maps, click the Saved Places icon in the top-right

The pop-up menu that appears has two tabs: “Favorites” and “Collections.” When you choose the Favorites tab, you will be shown three common locations.

The “Home” and “Work” locations are fairly self-explanatory while “Car” lets you save the location of where you parked. This might be useful if you’ve parked your car in a temporary location, for instance.

Under each of the tabs is an “Add” button. Click on this button to begin adding locations to these common locations.

In your Saved Places, click Add to save a location for Home, Work and Car

When you click the “Add” button, a search bar will appear. Use this to choose your desired locations. For instance, for your “Home” location, search for your home address and then press the “Enter” key.

Search for your Home location, then press enter or click the search button

As soon as you press the “Enter” key, your new location will be saved. You can then quickly refer to it again in the “Favorites” tab in the “Saved Places” menu.

If you need to quickly direct yourself to your “Home” location, you can click the “Directions” link that appears underneath the item. This will provide you with directions from your current location or from a location of your choosing.

Under Home in the Saved Places tab, click Directions

You can also search for “Home,” “Work,” or “Car” in the Maps search bar. This will bring up these locations as a listing for you to share, print, or list directions to.

Adding a Favorite Place

Windows Maps allows you to save more than just the three most important locations. You can save additional locations in the “Favorites” tab by clicking the “Add a Place” button.

Click Add a place in the Saved Places menu in Windows 10 Maps

You have two options for adding a favorite place. You can search for a location using the search bar or you can click “Choose Location” to manually position the map to your chosen location.

The Select Favorite Location bar in Windows 10 Maps

If you choose to manually position the map, move it to the appropriate location and then click the “Set” button.

Manually select your favorite location, then click Set

Once set, your newly added location will appear as a listing in the “Saved Places” tab underneath your prominent “Home,” “Work,” and “Car” locations.

A list of saved locations in Windows 10 Maps

Clicking on one of these entries will take you to the listing, where you can share it, add notes, see what’s nearby, or remove it from your favorites list entirely.

An example of a favorite location listing in Windows 10 Maps

You can add as many entries as you like to your list. For quick directions, click the “Directions” link underneath the name of each entry.

Creating a Collection

If you’re somebody who likes to travel a lot, the “Favorites” tab might start to get a little cluttered. To help you, Windows 10 Maps allows you to create collections.

Collections are groups of your saved, favorite locations. For example, you might decide to group a list of your favorite tourist destinations by location. You can keep these private, or you can share them with others.

To start, click the “Saved Places” icon in the top right and then click the “Collections” tab.

Click the Saved Places button in Windows 10 Maps, then click the Collections tab

To create a new collection, click the “New Collection” button. Give your collection a suitable name and description.

If you want to make your new collection private, press the “Make Collection Private” checkbox. When you’re ready to create your collection, click the “Save” button.

Click new collection, then provide a name and description before clicking save

Your new collection will appear in the “Collections” list, ready for you to begin adding locations.

A list of collections in the Windows 10 Maps app

To start adding locations, click on your new collection. Next, click “Add a Place” to begin the search.

To add a location to a Windows 10 Maps collection, click the collection, then click Add a place

Type in your chosen favorite location in the search bar or click “Choose Location” to position your map manually. Click “Set” when you’re ready to save the item.

When creating a Windows 10 Maps Collections location, manually position your location, then click Set

Once set, your selected location will be added to your new collection. You can add as many locations as you want to a collection.

A Windows 10 Maps Collection with saved listings

As with any individually saved favorite location, clicking on any item saved within a collection will bring up the listing, where you can save notes, share it with others, or remove it entirely.

You can also click “Directions” underneath the listing to quickly bring up directions.

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