Google Maps is arguably the best mapping solution that exists for mobile devices, with accurate mapping data and plenty of easy to use features to help you navigate more efficiently. In an upcoming update, the app will become even more flexible with a few new options, particularly in situations where cellular coverage may be problematic.
The first new feature is WiFi only mode. While the ability to save maps for offline use has existed for some time, this new feature will allow the user to dictate when maps should use mobile data and when they should rely on WiFi and previously saved information. This way, rather than wait for Google Maps to connect to a mobile network when the signal is weak, you can redirect it without having to turn off mobile data system wide, so other apps can continue to use the data connection. This mode will rely on previously downloaded mapping data, so to use it you’ll need to already have the map of your area downloaded. To save maps to your device, find “Offline areas” in the app’s menu, and then hit the plus button to add a new area. WiFi only mode can be turned on from within the “Settings” menu. Another new addition to the app is the ability to choose the external SD card as the storage location for offline maps, to keep the map data from taking up valuable space on the device’s internal storage. To do this, tap the settings while in the “Offline areas” submenu, and then “Storage preferences”. These options should make it easier to get around town effortlessly, whether or not a cellular connection is available. And when searching for routes, the app will now present a list of different modes of transportation, including third-party services like Uber, allowing users to pick the type that bests suits them.
The focus of this update appears to be freeing users from limitations, such as network signal strength and storage capacity. This is not the first move Google has made to try to help users maximize their storage space; recently the Google Photos app added the ability to free up space by deleting the local copies of photos that have already been backed up to cloud storage. Although the amount of onboard storage of mobile devices is increasing in newer models, features like these will allow users to stretch their storage even further, while helping low-end and older devices budget their space more efficiently.