Getting around in a foreign country can be frustrating and intimidating. I recently travelled to the US, and I was pretty much tethered to my computer looking for directions and memorizing them or jotting them down in my notes app. Part of the reason for this is using mapping applications such as Google, or Apple Maps can be a significant strain on limited data plans that can incur overage charges if you use mobile data. Maps apps being large and data rich as they are can immediately eat up your data plan when traversing an area.
So it is with that realization Google has finally added offline maps support to its popular Maps app, albeit for Android initially. The company is expected to provide iPhone and iPad support sometime later this year. We previously looked at offline maps, but this new update works differently. With the old method when you are offline, you can pan and zoom offline maps, but you can’t search or get directions. You can only download a certain portion of a map 50 km by 50 km. Saved areas of a map are automatically cleared after 30 days. With this update, those limitations are removed.
The New Updated Google Offline Maps
First, you need to be running Google Android and have access to a wireless connection. So if you have an Android device, make sure you launch Play Store and update to the latest version. If you stay at a hotel or hostel, hop onto their Wi-Fi network then launch Google Maps, tap offline areas, and then tap the “+” icon or search for a city or country then tap the download button.
Of course, I wouldn’t recommend you download an entire state, but for a particular area you might be travelling to, this can be handy. For me, this would have been great since I was staying in downtown Seattle and the Bellevue areas. Keep in mind, these maps are large and can use up a big chunk of storage space. When you’re ready to use your offline maps or have a bad connection, Google Maps will do the work for you by automatically switching to offline mode and switching you back when there is a good Wi-Fi connection.
This certainly takes away one of the common limitations when travelling and opens up new opportunities when you want to get out and about where ever you are visiting. If you can’t wait for iOS support, in the meantime, check out our article on how to use Google Maps offline.