iOS 14.5 Maps app may let you know how crowded places are

iOS 14.5 Maps update
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Maps app in the upcoming iOS 14.5 update already alerts you to accidents and speed traps along your route. Another potential update could let you know if the place you're headed is overcrowded.

MacRumors reports that Apple has been testing this new real-time crowd feature for points of interest in the Maps app. It's unclear if the feature would appear in the finished version of iOS 14.5, which is expected later this spring, or in a future update to the iPhone software.

Right now, data about crowds doesn't appear in the current beta version of iOs 14.5. Rather, the hint that this feature is coming appears in the updated Location Services menu of iOS 14. According to MacRumors, Apple says that when you open a specific app near a point of interest or business, your iPhone will anonymously send encrypted data to Apple, so that the company can determine if the point of interest is open and how many people are there. It will then make that information available to Maps users.

"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 use to let users know if that point of interest is open and how busy it is," Apple says.

Google Maps users will recognize this feature as something that already exists. Search for a particular business or interest in Google Maps and then scan down the card past the address, hours of operation and contact info. There, you'll see a Popular Times section that features a bar graph indicating crowd size particular times of day.

It's unclear at this point how Apple would go about displaying crowd info in its Maps app, but it's quite apparent that Cupertino isn't shy about picking up some of the better Google features to improve its own offering. That accident and speed trap info coming in iOS 14.5 has been a mainstay in the Google-owned Waze app for years.

Map improvements only make up some of the features Apple is introducing in iOS 14.5. Additionally, the updated software will let you unlock your phone with your Apple Watch, share Apple Card account access among family members, and track items with the upcoming AirTags accessory. iOS 14.5 is currently available as a public beta that you can download onto a compatible device, which includes the iPhone 6s and later.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.