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Apple Maps is finally getting crowdsourced incident reporting

Motorists using Apple Maps can report accidents, speed traps and other hazards, and they can even use Siri to do it.

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- 01:42

Historically, Apple has shied away from police-related alerts in its software, so Speed Check is an interesting development.

Apple/Screenshot by CNET

Apple Maps is finally committing to crowdsourced incident reporting from motorists. If you're a Waze devotee, or more recently, a Google Maps navigator, you're probably already used to being able to report and view incident reports for things like road hazards (accidents, animals, etc.), as well as speed traps. Now, Apple is testing similar features in the iOS 14.5 beta, which became available yesterday.

One key point of differentiation for this new feature set? In addition to manual screen-tap-based reporting, you can use Siri for spoken reports if you prefer to keep your hands on the wheel. For instance, you can say, "Hey, Siri, there's a crash up ahead," or "There's something in the road." You can even use voice commands to report that incidents previously reported on the map by others have been cleared. As driver distraction is a growing concern with today's more sophisticated cars and infotainment systems, this voice-command ability could be a big advantage for Apple. The update also works with Apple CarPlay integration, which mirrors your smartphone's functions on a vehicle's dashboard screen.

At least for the moment, Apple seems to be keeping users' screen-tap-based reporting options very limited -- you can select Accident, Hazard or Speed Check (meaning police). That's it. By contrast, Alphabet-developed Waze lets you drill down and classify hazards with greater specificity (such as On Road, Shoulder and Weather), as well as go into more detail about Crash (Major, Minor, Other Side) and Police (Visible, Hidden, Other Side). Apple Maps' simpler interface may encourage more drivers to contribute their own reports, but the information provided may not be as useful to fellow motorists.

As crowdsourced reporting is still in beta, Reddit users are not all reporting the same experience and capabilities when using it, and for the moment, at least, this functionality appears limited to US users.