Offline Search and Navigation Comes to Google Maps

Printed maps and hand-written directions are often still your best bet when you're traveling through an area with little or no connectivity. But Google Maps now offers another alternative to help you find your way: offline navigation and search.

Google Maps product manager Amanda Bishop gave a sneak preview of these new capabilities during the Google I/O conference in May. At that time, she demonstrated how the feature allowed her to access road maps, turn-by-turn voice directions as well as reviews and hours for local attractions in Mexico City -- even when her phone was in airplane mode.

"With offline maps, you won't need to suck down expensive data or have super reliable connectivity every time you want to navigate somewhere," Bishop said at the conference. "Google is committed to making our platforms and our products work well for the next billion people who are going to come online."

Designed to 'Prevent Large Data Fees'

In a blog post today, Bishop explained that such offline capabilities are vital for large parts of the world. "Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty," she said. "That means that quick and easy access to information is still not possible for a majority of the population."

The new offline navigation and search features enable users to download areas on Google Maps to their devices when they do have connections, and then lets them access that information even when there's no connection available or data access is prohibitively expensive. In fact, Google Maps by default will download areas to a device only when a Wi-Fi connection is available "to prevent large data fees," Bishop said.

Google began rolling out offline navigation and search capabilities today for Maps users with Android devices. Support...

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