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Apple Maps COVID-19 update refocuses local searches on hospitals, food deliveries

The old list (left), the updated list (right)

Apple has altered how Apple Maps shows nearby searches during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the app now focusing on providing quicker access to food deliveries, pharmacies, and grocery locations close to the user.

Users of Apple Maps are likely to be familiar with how the app provides a list of often-requested services and businesses in its search results, allowing for general searches for commonly needed locations. In a bid to make things easier for people to acquire supplies and medical attention during the coronavirus pandemic, Apple has updated the app to show a different list.

Discovered by, tapping the search box will bring up the list of categories to "search nearby." The list typically includes restaurants, fast food, rapid transit, cafes, and supermarkets, among other frequently-needed items, but on Tuesday the list has changed.

Tapping the search box now prioritizes default searches for pharmacies, hospitals, and urgent care near the top of the list. In some cases, the app will also show food delivery services as higher on the list than restaurants.

The change is subtle but highly useful for people who may be affected by official orders to stay at home and not to go outside, as well as to conduct social distancing. In many areas affected by the rules, food deliveries are preferred over restaurants, with the latter likely to be delivery-only or shut down entirely.

The change is slowly rolling out to users around the world. Not everyone is seeing the altered list at this time, with some AppleInsider staff seeing the updated roster while others do not at the time of publication.