If you are concerned about local air quality from fires, pollen or environmental pollution, you can check the current air quality index (AQI) with your iPhone or iPad. Currently, Apple only supports AQI control in certain countries (including the US, UK, Germany and India), but it should roll out to more regions in the future.
What is an air quality index?
An air quality index (AQI) is a numerical indicator of regional outdoor air quality in your area. Each country has its own way of determining air quality. For example, an air quality index in the United States is defined by the EPA as a composite scale from 0 to 500 that contains information on five different pollutants (ground level ozone, particulate pollutants, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide) in an index.
US AQI is divided into six categories, each with its own color. An AQI above 100 means that air quality is dangerous for sensitive groups. As AQI rises, the number of people affected by poor air quality increases.
Countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and India each use their own air quality index method, but the color codes are similar to the United States. There are too many variations in AQI systems to list them all here, so be sure to research your region’s AQI to understand exactly how it works.
Regardless of country, the goal of each AQI is the same: that you can quickly see if your local air is safe to breathe.
How to quickly check AQI on an iPhone or iPad
One of the fastest ways to check AQI for your area is to use Apple Maps on your iPhone or iPad running iOS or iPadOS 12.2 or later. To do so, open the “Apple Maps” app and then tap the navigation arrow to center the map on your current location.
When the map is positioned correctly, look for a small rectangular box at the bottom right of the screen. If your country is supported, you will see a local temperature and an AQI number along with a category color code.
If you do not see an AQI number in the corner, there may be two reasons. The first is that AQI may not be available in your country via Apple Maps yet. It is also possible that the AQI feature is turned off in the Apple Maps settings. Visit the Settings app> Maps> Air Quality Index and press the switch to turn it on.
The practicality of using Maps to see AQI is that you can use it to control AQI in any part of the world where the feature is supported. Move the map, zoom in enough, wait a moment, and the area’s AQI will appear in the corner of the screen.
You can also use the Apple Weather app to quickly check AQI. Open the pre-installed “Weather” app and then scroll down to the bottom of your local forecast page. There you will see “Air Quality Index” and “Air Quality” listed side by side.
As with Apple Maps, you can use the Weather app to check AQI for other areas if you add them as forecast locations in the app. This can be very convenient if you are planning to travel to an area and want to know what AQI is in the area before you arrive.