An important update is in the process or rolling out in the Google Play Store for Google Maps. The update, version 9.33.1 for those keeping score at home, brings a new Wi-Fi only mode to the navigation app. In this mode, Maps will not consume any data and will give you navigation information in areas that you have downloaded to your device. Once you are connected again to a wireless network, you have full functionality of the app. The idea behind this new feature is two-fold: First, if you are traveling abroad, you can save on high data usage charges while you navigate in that foreign country. Second, there are plenty of rural areas here in the United States were data from carriers is just not available. Either way, you can use this new Wi-Fi mode and keep navigating.
The key is that you have to had downloaded map areas to your device so they can be used offline. Most commonly you will save areas around your home or work but if you are making a road trip
of sorts, you can save those areas to your device and let Google Maps use them to navigate in that new place. If you do not have any offline maps downloaded, the feature won’t work.
Which brings me to the second major update in this new release of Google Maps: Offline SD Card saving. Many devices have a MicroSD slot for expanded storage but, until now, Maps would only use your system storage and not the SD card. That changes with this release as you can now point the app to save offline maps to your MicroSD card to save on that internal storage.
This update to Google Maps is rolling out now and you should see the OTA for it over the course of the next few days if not already. Once you do, if you go into Settings you will see the new Wi-Fi only mode option.