Aside from bringing out Waze-like reporting and hazard features, Apple Maps is getting another feature similar to Google Maps: real-time crowdsourced information for points of interest, such as whether a business is currently open and how busy it is at the moment.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • A new Maps feature in iOS 14.5.
  • Find out how busy a place is before visiting.
  • Uses anonymized, encrypted location data.
  • Data collection for the feature is optional.

Crowdsourced, real-time business info on Maps

On Google Maps, live crowdsourced data powers that bar graph which you’ve probably seen before that displays estimated popular times and other live data for a business. Well, it looks like something similar could be coming to Apple Maps soon, with live data being collected in anonymized form when the user opens an app near a point of interest.

How to customize Apple Maps to your liking

According to Reddit, the new Routing and Traffic section within the system’s Location
Services settings includes a new privacy explainer which reads as follows:

While you are in transit (for example, walking or driving), your iPhone will periodically send GPS data, travel speed, and barometric pressure information in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple, to be used for augmenting crowd-sourced road traffic and atmospheric correction databases. Additionally, when you open an app near a point of interest (for example, a business or park) your iPhone will send location data in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple which Apple may aggregate and let users know if that point of interest is open and how busy it is.

The wording implies that data collection will be optional rather than outside of your control. It’s not very clear from the description how Apple may implement this feature and whether data collection for the feature may involve any third-party apps.

iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and other updates are expected to launch in early Spring.