U.K. iPhone and iPad users who open the App Store this morning are being met with a COVID-19 public service announcement from the British government, signaling an expansion of Apple's efforts to prominently display official coronavirus alerts on its devices.
Tapping on the prioritized card takes users to an NHS app link and a video containing coronavirus protection guidance from the UK government's chief medical officer, professor Chris Whitty:
To help save lives, stay at home. Anyone can spread coronavirus. You should now only go out when absolutely necessary, for food, medicine, work, or exercise. Always try to stay two meters apart. Do not meet others outside your household – even friends and family.
Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.
The App Store is an unfamiliar home for a PSA – Apple News would be the normal location for this kind of content – but Apple is obviously trying to get out the official guidance to as many users as possible, including anyone browsing for new apps and updates on their devices.
In the U.S., Apple began displaying White House public service announcements at the top of the App Store on March 21, offering official guidance on the "dos and don'ts" of social distancing. Users in other countries are also likely to see similar advice from their national governments.
This is just the latest of several other measures that Apple is taking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apple said earlier this month that it is critically evaluating coronavirus-related apps submitted to the App Store to ensure data sources are reputable and that developers presenting these apps are from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions.