That frustrating moment as you’re about to depart, when for some reason your phone decides to drop it’s network connection. Suddenly you better hope you know where you’re going, because Google Maps will leave you high and dry as you desperately try to get it to give you a route. From today, no more.
A long time in the coming, from Google’s promise of the feature back in May, the popular map and route-finding software will now be full-featured even when offline. And while some may argue that Google Maps has had offline functionality for a long time, with the ability to save maps locally, this feature was severely limited, offering no route-finding or navigation. Essentially just a plain digital map. This new update to Google Maps fills in all the functional blanks that have been missing since. Searching, routing, turn-by-turn vocal navigation and even basic information on businesses will now be available on saved maps while offline.
In order to make use of these new features, you must first download the map data to your device. Maps allows you to download maps on three scales, country, county or city, or the option to download a specific area from the offline areas menu. After downloading the maps for an area, you’re good to go. Maps handles hot-swapping between the downloaded map and using the network connection behind the scenes, aiming to make the experience seamless as you travel in and out of signal. The only thing offline maps can’t do is live traffic, for obvious reasons.
Having suffered frustration due to the whims of my mobile network provider when trying to travel personally, I highly welcome this change. How do you feel, a long overdue must-have, or simply nice to have?