Apple MapsSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple Maps may soon tell you how busy a location is and if it is open using location data.
  • The feature would use anonymous and encrypted data from iPhone users that protected their privacy.

Apple Maps may soon offer a handy feature that Google Maps users have been enjoying for years.

As spotted by a user on Reddit, the latest iOS 14.5 beta includes new language in the Location Services section of the Settings app that points to the new feature. As explained in the copy, Apple refers to a new feature that, using anonymous location data from iPhone users, could inform Apple Maps users if a location is open and busy.

Of course, the data sent to Apple will be anonymous and encrypted, so the company won't know who is at the location.

Routing and Traffic: 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.

Apple is working on location busyness and opening times based on visits. from r/applemaps

Google Maps has had a similar feature for years. The feature allows you to check the hours of a business as well as view when it is at its busiest. This is handy for those who wish to miss the rush that some stores inherently experience during certain hours and on certain days.

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Trying to figure out the best mapping app for your needs? Check out our list of the Best Map Apps for iPhone in 2021.

Apple's version of this feature, in stark contrast to Google, would aim to provide this helpful information without collecting any personal information from its users. If Apple could do so, it would be another win for users without the cost of privacy.