At Google’s I/O, earlier this year, offline navigation was one of the major announcements along with Android M. Google had promised to bring enhanced offline mode for its maps app, and the feature is now rolling out to Android devices.
The ability to download offline maps was there since 2011, but it came with a set of restrictions. First off, users could only download maps of region with 10 mile radius (approximately 16 kilometers). There was a download limit, with maximum of 10MB and offline maps were only stored for a period of 30 days after which users were required to download the map again. However, with the latest Google Maps update, Google seems to have done away with these restrictions.
The new update adds support for turn-by-turn navigation in offline mode. The download limit has gone, which means you can now download maps of the entire city, which can be as big as 375MB or more. To download offline maps, you will need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network, thus letting you save on mobile data.
Unlike before, the offline maps will now be updated in every 15 days to ensure you have the latest updated details. However, there are a few caveats to offline maps – you don’t get satellite view, walking or other public transit modes. Obviously there is no support for live traffic updates. To get these services, you’ll have to turn on mobile data or Wi-Fi.
The latest Google Maps update also lets you search for destinations, business information and nearby places in offline mode. You can easily pull up information such as contact details, ratings and hours of operation among others. Google has added a dedicated download button, which makes it easier to select and download a map locally.
Offline navigation is designed to work seamlessly when there’s no internet connectivity, Google said in its blog post. So whether you are in an underground parking or on a country road, with offline navigation you no longer need to worry about bring connected to find directions.
At the time of filing this story, we haven’t received the update to Google Maps. However, according to Google, the new app has a download button that lets you select a particular area on the map to download offline content. Alternatively, you can also tap on ‘Offline Areas’ in Menu and tap on ‘+’ button to search and download offline map content of a specific region.
Offline maps and turn-by-turn navigation support was offered by a handful of third-party service providers, like Nokia’s HERE maps that have provided offline support for years.
A few months ago, Google also introduced a feature to save YouTube videos for offline viewing. The service allows users to download videos when connected to a Wi-Fi network and view them later, thus not burning a hole in their mobile data packs, which is already quite expensive. This feature is aimed at counties such as India where there is limited and often spotty Internet connectivity and mobile data remains an expensive proposition.
As the update is rolling out in phases, it may take a while till the update becomes available in your region. Initially starting with Android, Google has also promised that it will soon roll out the same feature for iOS users too.