Google Maps is gaining a major new feature in the form of offline nvaigation. With offline support, Google Maps will let you save an area of the world to your phone. If you’ve got that map saved and you enter a location with a spotty or non-existent connection, you’ll continue to get turn-by-turn directions and information about places, like contact info and hours of operation, just like normal.
To use offline maps, you can search for a a city, county, or even country, and then refine the area by moving around and resizing a highlight square. Once you’ve got the area that you want to save highlighted, simply bring up the place sheet and tap the “Download” button. You can also jump into the Google Maps menu, go to Offline Areas, and then hit the “+” button.
As I mentioned before, Google Maps will automatically switch to offline mode if it senses you’ve got a weak connection. Once you’ve regained a connection, it’ll pop back into online mode so that you can get info like live traffic conditions.
Google notes that, by default, Maps will only download areas when you’re on a Wi-Fi connection.
This is a big feature for Google Maps. Not only can it come in handy for folks with limited data plans, but people that live in areas with slow or weak connections can locate a solid Wi-Fi connection and download all of the map information that they'll need for the day or whatever. Google says that it plans to add more offline features to Google Maps in the future, so it'll be interesting to see what other goodies the app gains.
This offline maps support is rolling out to Google Maps for Android starting today. Google says that it’ll be a “gradual” rollout, so the update may take a few days to appear on your device. Offline mapping feature is “coming soon” to Google Maps for iOS