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Google Increases Offline Functionality For Maps; Now Rolling Out On Android

At Google I/O earlier this year, additional improvements were shown for Google Maps, specifically focusing on additional offline capabilities. Six months later, the new features are finally rolling out on Android devices.

In the past, you could look at only a portion of the map without an online connection. Now, you can download large areas for offline use. An outlined square appears on the screen, and any portion of the map inside can be downloaded. Even in Offline Mode, you can still receive turn-by-turn directions, search for a destination, and find out more information about location such as ratings, contact information, and operating hours.

Obviously, downloading offline data for a large city as opposed to a few blocks can take up a significant amount of storage on your mobile device. By default, offline maps can only be downloaded through a Wi-Fi connection to reduce usage fees. The offline maps also automatically kick in when you move to an area where an online connection is spotty or nonexistent. When you return to an area with a strong connection, the app returns to its online state.

For now, the features will begin to appear on Android devices. The iOS version will also get the update at some point in the future, but Google hasn't specified an exact date.

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Rexly Peñaflorida II is a Contributor at Tom’s Hardware. He writes news on tech and hardware, but mostly focuses on gaming news. As a Chicagoan, he believes that deep dish pizza is real pizza and ketchup should never be on hot dogs. Ever. Also, Portillo’s is amazing.

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  • poochiepiano
    This is literally the only reason I ever felt like I should get a data plan. This is fantastic news. Now I feel better about being a cheapo and staying with my prepaid minutes plan in 2015 :D
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Maps has always had an offline mode, albeit with limited offline directions. They hid it some time over a year ago but saving maps was still accessible by typing "ok maps" in the search box.

    I find it funny that Google needed this many years to realize that people might not want to waste a fair chunk of their data plan to use their apps while away from WiFi for stuff they could easily have downloaded in advance for offline access.
    Reply
  • Solandri
    16927135 said:
    I find it funny that Google needed this many years to realize that people might not want to waste a fair chunk of their data plan to use their apps while away from WiFi for stuff they could easily have downloaded in advance for offline access.
    They didn't just now realize it, they've known it all along. They've just been ignoring it because they're really pushing cloud computing. They wanted people to get used to the idea of their phone GPS requiring a data connection to function. It's the same reason Google Apps (Office replacement) is all done online, why the Nexus devices have no microSD card storage, why the Chromebooks only have 16GB of storage.
    Reply
  • heffeque
    16927135 said:
    They hid it some time over a year ago but saving maps was still accessible by typing "ok maps" in the search box.
    The "ok maps" command stopped working years ago.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    16927459 said:
    The "ok maps" command stopped working years ago.
    It usually works fine for me and I have used it multiple times over the past two years, the most recent of which being about a month ago. I got lost due to construction detours and if offline Maps hadn't worked, I would have had to dig out my paper maps.

    Just make sure you aren't trying to save a larger area than Maps allows, otherwise all you get is a "map too large" message.
    Reply
  • heffeque
    16927597 said:
    16927459 said:
    The "ok maps" command stopped working years ago.
    It usually works fine for me and I have used it multiple times over the past two years, the most recent of which being about a month ago. I got lost due to construction detours and if offline Maps hadn't worked, I would have had to dig out my paper maps.

    Just make sure you aren't trying to save a larger area than Maps allows, otherwise all you get is a "map too large" message.
    Well... it hasn't worked on the Samsung Galaxy Fame (yes it's old and crappy) for years and right now it's not working on the iPhone 4 either (yes also old). In both cases it says that it's "unsupported". Not sure why it's working for you.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    16927776 said:
    Not sure why it's working for you.
    Could be a perk for owning a Nexus-branded device - I have a 2012 Nexus 7. I haven't owned anything else long enough to run into a situation where I needed to save a map.
    Reply
  • Dugimodo
    I just use Here maps if I'm out of coverage, free and lets me download the entire country not just small areas. As for data usage, never understood the problem. I navigate with google maps frequently and the data usage is tiny.
    Reply
  • targetdrone
    Too little too late. I bought a Garmin with lifetime map updates because Google was unwilling to the ability to navigate off line and the offline maps they did provided were very limited in size in size.
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    This is really good news for ANDROID AUTO users which only have google maps for navigation, as of now. I hope HERE maps or tomtom or garmin come up with an android auto solution.
    Reply