Back in May at Google I/O, the company previewed offline navigation in Google Maps. With this feature enabled, users would be able to download a map area and get turn-by-turn navigation to their destination even if they have no internet connection on their device. Now six months later, the company is starting to roll the feature out to users.
You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping “Download” on the resulting place sheet, or by going to “Offline Areas” in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the “+” button. Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all. When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route. By default, we’ll only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.
The updated feature is great for those who may be traveling in a rural area where data connectivity is sketchy or for us urban dwellers, we are in a multi-story car park and have no connectivity available.
What I like about how Google has done with the offline functionality of Google Maps is that it continually stays aware
if you have connectivity or not. In other words, just because you start in offline mode, it doesn’t mean you stay there. Once you have a data signal then it goes into online mode so you have full access to the maps in the app as well as traffic information.
The update to Google Maps will require a new build of the app for Android phones and tablet. That build is starting to hit the Google Play Store now and you should see the update hit your device over the course of the next few days.
For those of you who use Google Maps on iOS, this new offline feature will be coming soon but it will be on Android first.