Google Maps now lets you navigate offline

11 Nov 2015

Now you can download Google Maps and navigate when offline

Google is pushing deeper into the offline world with a new offline feature that enables offline turn-by-turn navigation in Google Maps. The new offline feature is now available on Android and is coming soon to iOS.

Amanda Bishop, product manager at Google Maps, explained that online access is still pretty spotty in most places and that 60pc of the world’s population is still without online access.

This means that for a majority of the world’s population online navigation services on mobile devices are only useful where there is coverage.

Google is attempting to solve this problem by enabling users to find where they are going even without an internet connection.

Google Maps now has offline turn-by-turn navigation

“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,” Bishop explained.

“Whereas before you could simply view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings.”

Users can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping “Download” on the resulting place sheet, or by going to “Offline Areas” in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the “+” button.

Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognises you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all.

“When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route. By default, we’ll only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees,” Bishop said.

The new feature was first previewed at Google I/O in May.

It will feature in the latest version of Android and is coming soon to iOS.

“Over time, we’ll be introducing even more offline features to help you find your way—even when you can’t find a connection,” Bishop said.

Has Google Maps supplanted European GPS players?

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Google faces a fresh round of European Union questions about its Android operating system and whether services like Google Maps has supplanted in-car navigation technologies provided by TomTom and Nokia’s HERE mapping unit.

Separately, British mapping rival Streetmap EU Ltd is suing Google in the UK for a loss of web traffic caused by Google placing its map results over rival services in search results.

Google, which is now a subsidiary of parent company Alphabet, is also the target of a five-year anti-trust investigation by the EU into its search services and whether it favours its own services in search results over those of its rivals.

Let’s see if Google can navigate its way out of this legal bother.

Google Maps image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years