Google Maps Enables Offline Navigation, Search

Users can now download a map area to their phone and then use it while driving — regardless of connectivity.

Google has introduced offline navigation and search to Google Maps, meaning that users can download an area of the world to their phone and receive turn-by-turn directions and place information — even if connectivity lapses.

In other words, no need to worry about getting lost on those winding country roads — or wondering which way to turn out of an underground parking garage. The capability has launched on Android, and iOS will follow soon, Amanda Bishop, Google’s product manager, said in a blog post.

Google initially hinted at its map’s offline abilities in May during its I/O apps event. The move comes amid increasing challenges in the form of additional features and functions from Verizon/AOL’s MapQuest and Apple Maps.

Users can download an “preset” area by searching for a city, county, or country 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 recognizes 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.

While the update is designed to simply make Google’s host of directional information easily and accessibly available, regardless of cellular service, it could also potentially be a boon to small local businesses; if a user can search for nearby restaurants and the like even in most rural areas, traditionally out-of-the-way establishments could see a boost in traffic.

“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 wrote.

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.