Apple Maps in iOS 10 is watching you, even when you’re using Google Maps.
Apple appears to have a plan to make Apple Maps more compelling than Google Maps: Have the app watch everything you do, and offer to help when it can.
epending 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/pasting in their iPhone or iPad. Copy an address, for example, and Apple Maps’ new app widget will offer driving directions. That works even if you copy a location in Google Maps — making it easy for you to send directions to a friend by text or email.
After you copy an address in Google Maps, Apple Maps acknowledges it’s been watching you with 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.
It’s unclear if the data is transmitted to Apple.
Apple had no immediate comment, though it routinely says it values customner’s privacy. Google didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Apple plans to release iOS 10 for free in the fall, and some of these features may change by then.
This 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 now includes two other maps-related features besides “Maps Destinations.” “Maps Nearby” shows things like lunch and coffee spots and “Maps Transit” gives 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 things, 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 mislocated landmarks and gave poor driving directions. Shortly after, Google released its own dedicated mapping app for the iPhone and iPad, marking the end of a five-year partnership with Apple to power the iPhone’s built-in maps app.
Apple has spent the past four years refining its maps app along with other features. This year, the company is focusing heavily on making its Siri voice assistant more useful to users. Offering easy navigation and driving directions through its maps app is an undoubtedly important feature.