Posts

Apple Store

Apple Maps Is Now Displaying Covid-19 Vaccine Locations 

Apple users can now ask Siri or search within Apple Maps to find nearby Covid-19 vaccination providers throughout the US, the app will also display important information such as operation hours, links, phone numbers to call for assistance, and more!

The company announced this week that it updated the Apple Maps app to include Covid-19 vaccination locations provided by VaccineFinder, one of the biggest resources currently being used by Americans to find a proper vaccine provider. VaccineFinder was initially developed by the Boston Children’s Hospital as a free service that provides the latest vaccine availability for those eligible at certain pharmacies or other providers. 

Embed from Getty Images

Now, users of Apple Maps can use the search bar within the application to find these locations by simply clicking the “Covid-19 Vaccines” button under the “Find Nearby” menu, which typically provides the locations of nearby restaurants, gas stations, and other useful locations. iPhone users can also now ask Siri “where can I get a Covid vaccine” to see the information as well. 

“The Apple Maps place card for each vaccine site will include the operating hours, address, phone numbers, and a link to the provider’s website, where Maps users can learn more about available vaccines and book appointments. The initial rollout includes more than 20,000 locations, with Apple adding more sites in the coming weeks,” according to Apple.

Besides just using data from VaccineFinder, Apple is using information that’s been collected from healthcare providers, labs, and other businesses that provide essential information regarding the pandemic. These establishments can also submit their information themselves through the Apple Business Register page; most businesses use this page when they’re first established so that customers can find them on their phones. 

Embed from Getty Images

One Apple validates an establishment’s essential information about testing or vaccination locations, it then uploads it directly onto the Maps app so users can see them displayed immediately. Additionally, “Apple Maps now displays COVID-19 modules on the business place cards for more than 4,400 locations, allowing retailers to communicate COVID-19-related information to their customers, like special shopping hours,” the company announced this week.

Siri can also be used to find nearby testing and vaccination locations. The digital assistant can also help identify outdoor dining establishments and places offering takeout. Siri can also provide guidance and essential resources provided by the CDC if she’s asked “How do I know if I have Covid-19?” 

Apple also recently announced the release of “a mobility data trends tool to support the impactful work happening worldwide to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This mobility data may provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities, and may also be used as a foundation for new public policies by showing the change in volume of people driving, walking, or taking public transit in their communities. To learn more about COVID-19 mobility trends, visit apple.com/covid19/mobility.”

Maps Icon

Apple Will Begin Placing Covid-19 Testing Facility Locations On Maps

All around the United States, coronavirus testing facilities have been opening up to give citizens access to safe testing. However, the biggest complaint so far has been that no one can find them, and even if you do know where one is, you first need to find out if you’re eligible for testing, which is posing just as much of a challenge. 

Now, Apple is distributing a smart-phone application to any lab, business, or facility that’s offering covid-19 testing. The app requires these places to register their information with Apple Maps so that users can simply open the Maps app on their phone and see a little icon wherever there’s a testing facility; much like how there’s a little gas pump on the map wherever there’s a gas station. 

Embed from Getty Images

Beyond just giving this app to the facilities, Apple has also made the official template for submission available online for anyone to use and submit. You simply download the template, input the information regarding your local covid-19 testing location, and then send it back using a business email address. After, Apple will then review the application to ensure that a testing site is actually where the application says it to be. Once approved, these locations should begin to appear on Apple Maps represented by a “red medicinal icon.”

Once uploaded, on the actual digital map itself each location should specify whether the testing center is accessible via drive-through, parking lot, or inside an actual building. Each specific facility will also be able to note if they were already an existing lab, or converted into one for covid-19 testing. 

As previously mentioned, so far the largest issue with these testing facilities stems from the fact that no one knows how to find them/access them. Even if you know where one is, the procedural details regarding what one should do once at the facility is even more confusing. Most states throughout the US don’t even offer testing unless you’ve called your state’s health department and received approval for being symptomatic enough to get tested; even though many cases are also asymptomatic. 

Embed from Getty Images

The demand for more testing facilities has also been an ongoing struggle, as many find themselves waiting for hours upon hours for a simple nose swab test, or not able to even find a facility to begin with. So even when individuals feel like they’re exhibiting all of the symptoms for covid-19, they still could be unable to be tested. Apple is also asking these locations to specify whether patients need a doctors approval to get tested so people don’t show up to certain places only to get turned away.

So far, no testing facilities have appeared on Apple Maps, however, it’s just one initiative out of a list of many coming from the company in an attempt to combat this virus. For example, recently Apple and Google partnered up to build a “cross-platform coronavirus-tracking tool” that allows users with either an iOS or Android phone to see if they’ve potentially come in contact with someone who has the virus. 

Luckily, more drive-through testing facilities are also beginning to appear throughout the country, as promised by president Trump weeks ago, however, it’s just not happening quickly enough. Walgreens opened 15 drive-through testing centers throughout seven states last week; CVS currently has three and Walmart has two, but all of those facilities are by appointment only. 20 testing facilities that are being “provided” to the public by some of the largest corporations in America is simply not enough to protect 300 million+ Americans. Citizens are doing their part by social distancing, and remaining as hygienic and clean as possible, so it’s time for our healthcare industry and government bodies to show us the same level of dedication and protection.