Google Maps Launches Offline Mode

AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof
AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof

Google Maps, the popular GPS navigation and online worldwide map service, has launched an offline mode for Android devices, with iOS capabilities to be released soon.

The new offline mode allows users to download certain areas of the world for offline use and not only view portions of the map but also receive turn-by-turn driving directions,search for specific locations and destinations, and find information about places nearby including opening hours, contact information, and user ratings.

In the announcement posted yesterday to Google’s official blog, Product Manager Amanda Bishop stated:

Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty. That means that quick and easy access to information is still not possible for a majority of the population. This is a huge problem, especially as people attempt to navigate and explore the world around them, so Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions and get where they’re going, even when they don’t have an Internet connection.

Now you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there’s no connectivity—whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage—Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly.

According to the official statement, downloading maps is as easy as searching for a city, county, or country, and then tapping the download button next to it. Google Maps will then switch between online and offline mode according to whether or not you have service. New maps can only be downloaded with a Wi-Fi connection, and you cannot currently download a map with only a 3G or 4G connection due to data costs, according to the announcement.

The new feature, which was first previewed in May at Google’s I/O developer conference in San Francisco, is currently available exclusively to Android phones, but an iOS version for Apple products is said to be coming soon, along with more offline features.

Follow Charlie Nash on Twitter @MrNashington.