Apple has launched a new portal that will allow healthcare providers, labs, and other businesses to submit information on COVID-19 testing locations, which will then be displayed on Apple Maps after review and approval by the company.
The portal provides a template in CSV format, which is to be filled up by the relevant healthcare providers and labs. The template asks for information like testing hours, referral requirements, appointment requirements, testing location type, and much more. The file can then be emailed to Apple for review, from a business email address. Alternatively, new testing locations can also be submitted via Apple Maps app, by tapping on the 'i' button and selecting "Add a missing place".
Once Apple verifies the information, it will then be added to Apple Maps on all platforms. The testing locations will be visually different than other locations on the map, with a special icon, and details regarding referral or appointment requirements.
As per the FAQs, Apple is not providing any turnaround time for the verification process. The company also says that it might not be notifying the healthcare providers on approval as well because the focus is on collecting and verifying as much location data as possible.
Unlike the Apple Business Register portal, which asks for an Apple ID to sign in, Apple is not asking for sign-ups for COVID-19 testing location submission. Apple has not even created a form on its website to simplify the process for submissions. We can't imagine that the process to go through the submissions via email would be easy for the company.
Apple has been very active to provide support for COVID-19 efforts. The company had launched a COVID-19 screening app and website for users in the United States to check for symptoms from home. Apart from tech-related efforts, Apple has also been sourcing masks, and producing a million face shields per week for frontline healthcare workers around the world. Yesterday, Apple and Google also announced an unprecedented joint effort for a contact tracking framework for iOS and Android, through the use of APIs that would enable interoperability between devices via Bluetooth.