- Apple Maps will soon start showing testing locations for the novel coronavirus.
- Apple has an online portal where healthcare providers and other businesses can register their COVID-19 testing locations.
- Google Maps has plenty of coronavirus-related features but doesn’t list COVID-19 testing sites in the app.
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Apple has been upgrading its Apple Maps navigation apps in the past few years to try to catch up with Google’s Maps product. The latter isn’t the default mapping and navigation app on iOS, but plenty of iPhone users still use it. Google Maps offers a more feature-rich experience than Apple Maps, and that’s understandable given Google’s development lead on Apple. But Apple Maps is about to get a feature that Google Maps should copy as soon as possible as it’s related to the novel coronavirus health crisis. Apple Maps will soon direct you to the closes COVID-19 testing center near you, which is the kind of information you should find in a navigation app during a pandemic.
Google Maps already has plenty of features that can assist you during lockdowns. The app displays a COVID-19 warning every time you search for a hospital or doctor, reminding you to call ahead before visiting a medical facility. The app also allows business owners to provide fast updates about their stores, including business hours changes and closures. Moreover, the app highlights all the nearby restaurants that deliver food, and it lets you place orders directly inside the app with participating food places. But Google Maps doesn’t offer information about coronavirus testing inside the app.
It should be noted, however, that Google has a COVID-19 site in place where you can find relevant information about your area, and has COVID-19 news sections inside Google News and YouTube.
Displaying COVID-19 testing locations on a map isn’t straightforward, and requires help from the community of medical professionals. And that’s precisely what Apple is doing. 9to5Mac spotted Apple’s COVID-19 portal for hospitals and healthcare professionals where they can register their coronavirus testing locations.
Medical professionals are required to fill in testing information in a downloadable excel template and then mail it back to Apple. The data will be reviewed, and it will then show inside Apple Maps.
Even if the lockdown measures are relaxed as early as May in some areas, the coronavirus threat won’t just disappear. There may be more outbreaks ahead, as the virus can still circulate in the open. That’s why coronavirus testing location data is a critical addition to any navigation app. Google Maps will probably be quick to show COVID-19 testing locations soon.
In the weeks and months ahead, COVID-19 testing capacity should increase to the point where governments around the world will be able to test more people, not just the ones showing symptoms. Moreover, governments will start deploying serology tests that can detect patients who have recovered from COVID-19, and who may be immune to the disease after surviving it. Coronavirus screening campaigns could help paint a much better picture of the number of people who got the disease and limit the spread in new outbreaks.