Google Maps is about to get much more useful as it is getting offline functionality today. Google has been optimizing this app so it uses fewer data and we have been able to download relatively small areas to use them offline, but now, we will be able to not only download larger areas but also get more information when we’re not connected to the internet. There’s 60 percent of the world without Internet and even where connectivity is available, it might be quite expensive or it might get spotty or slow in some areas like buildings or underground places, let’s not forget those expensive roaming charges while traveling, so this new feature will be useful for everyone.
This feature was demoed back in May and it will be rolling out starting today for devices running Android and iOS devices will start getting it later. It works just like we’re used to, we will be able to download some areas of the map by searching for a city or a specific place and tap “Download” in the information sheet. Alternatively, there’s a section called “Offline Areas” in the menu and we just need to tap the “+” button to select a new area to download. This might not seem extremely useful, but now, offline maps will display more information as we could search for specific places and see the hours of operation, contact information or ratings.
Of course, some features like traffic information will still require an internet connection, but the way the offline functionality was implemented allows the app to work seamlessly and switch between online and offline modes. This is particularly useful as turn-by-turn navigation is available offline too, so you might not even notice when the connection is lost, and when the device gets connected again, you will get the full Google Maps experience. Maps will be downloaded over Wi-Fi by default to prevent large data fees. In the future, the app could get even smarter, by downloading certain areas around a frequently visited place or a specific place where a meeting will take place using information from the calendar.