Google Maps update brings offline navigation and search

Google Maps goes offline. Photo: Google

Google Maps goes offline. Photo: Google

Google Maps is getting offline navigation to ensure you never get stranded in a strange place when your data connection disappears. Users can download entire areas onto their smartphone, then get turn-by-turn directions even while they’re offline.

“Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty,” Google explains on its Maps blog.

“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.”

Starting today on Android — and “soon” on iOS — users can download maps for entire cities, counties, and countries simply by searching for them, then selecting the “Download” option on the place sheet. You can also go into the “Offline Areas” section and tap the “+” button.

Once you map is downloaded, Maps will transition into offline mode automatically when it detects that your data connection is spotty or nonexistent — then switch back to offline mode again when it returns.

In offline mode, you can continue to search for places of interest, use turn-by-turn navigation, and even find useful information about nearby locations — including hours of operating, contact information, and ratings.

The feature is great for frequent travelers because it means you never have to worry about getting lost without a data connection. Simply download the map of the area you’re visiting before you leave, and you have complete peace of mind.

It’s also ideal for navigating abroad without racking up massive roaming charges.

Google promises it will be adding more features to offline mode over time to make it even more useful. For now, you can download the Maps update on Android to get your hands on it.