Maps.me throws gauntlet down to Google offering free downloadable maps

5 Dec 2014

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The navigation app Maps.me is offering serious competition to Google Maps, as the previously paid-for app is now free, enabling users to download an entire country’s map for offline use.

Until now, the app was available for purchase on the Google Play store and Apple App Store for US$4.99.

The app has been built on the OpenStreetMap project, an open-source map project online, that has thousands of users contributing national route information. It’s essentially a Wikipedia of online maps.

While internet search giant Google has established the most widely used navigation software with Google Maps, it has always shied away from offering its maps as downloadable for offline use, largely due to the fact it is constantly being updated to allow for commercial businesses to add their locations and for other live transport information.

Despite this, Google has recently begun to give users the option of downloading maps for offline use, but only in the area that appears on the phone user’s screen and even then information is nowhere near as detailed as its online counterpart.

The city of Dublin mapped out by Maps.me

With Maps.me however, entire nations can be downloaded for use, including navigation directions for drivers and various local details, such as the location of petrol stations, ATMs and hospitals.

The decision to release the app for free online comes a month after Russian email giant Mail.ru purchased the app. Mail.ru now has plans for the app to lead the roll out of its My.com brand, which Mail.ru hopes to expand outside of Russia into the world market.

The first version of Maps.me was released in 2011, and since then the app has seen more than 7m installs and has built up map data for 345 countries and islands.

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com