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Apple Maps in iOS 10 will watch you, even if you're using Google Maps

Apple appears to have a plan to make Apple Maps more compelling than Google Maps: let its software watch everything you do and offer to help whenever possible.

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Apple Maps will watch for every opportunity to help, even if you use Google Maps.

Screenshot by Ian Sherr/CNET

Depending on how you look at it, Apple Maps is about to get a lot more helpful or a lot more annoying.

As revealed in a prerelease beta of iOS 10 software, Apple Maps now watches what users are copying and pasting in their iPhone or iPad. Copy an address, for example, and Apple Maps' upcoming app widget will offer driving directions.

This function will work even if you copy a location inside the Google Maps app and is designed to make it easier for you to send directions to a friend by text or email.

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After you copy an address in Google Maps, Apple Maps will acknowledge that it's been watching you via the message: "Recently viewed in Google Maps." Depending on the source, the message could also say "Recently viewed in Waze" if coming from Google's crowdsourced traffic app or "Recently viewed in Safari" if coming from the web.

Another look at the new functionality.

Screenshot by Ian Sherr/CNET

It's unclear whether the data is transmitted to Apple.

Apple plans to release iOS 10 for free this fall, and some of these beta features could change by then.

The Maps capability is part of a revamped set of functions for the mobile software's widgets feature, first introduced two years ago in iOS 8. The beta version includes two other maps-related functions besides the new one for directions dubbed "Maps Destinations." "Maps Nearby" will surface places like lunch joints and coffee spots, while "Maps Transit" will give service schedules for bus and subway routes. The widgets are activated when you swipe right on the phone's home screen.

Companies have been creating widgets for all manner of actions, from converting currency to displaying to-do lists. Google Maps and Waze have their own widgets, designed to help people quickly access functions like driving directions, without having to tap on the app's icon first.

To be sure, Apple's Maps app still has hurdles to overcome. The company released it in 2012 to waves of criticism, after users discovered it put some landmarks in the wrong locations and sometimes offered poor driving directions. Shortly after, Google released its own dedicated mapping app for the iPhone and iPad, marking the end of its five-year partnership with Apple to power the iPhone's built-in mapping app.

Apple has spent the past four years refining its Maps app. Another upcoming Maps feature will pin the site of your parked car to save you the headache of trying to remember it yourself.