Google is helping its Maps users get directions even when they are offline.
Thanks to an update to the Google Maps mobile app, users will be able to download an area of the world onto their phone so that the next time they are disconnected from the Internet they will still be able to find directions to get where they are going.
Previously, users were able to only view an area of a map offline, but now they can also get turn-by-turn directions, search for specific destinations and discover information about places, such as hours, contact information or ratings. This update is good for consumers and businesses alike, as it means that customers will be able to navigate to their destinations and businesses will be findable regardless of connectivity issues.
To download an area of the map, users should search for a city, county or country and tap “download” on the resulting place sheet. Additionally, users can go to “offline areas” in the Google Maps menu and tap the “+” button. Once downloaded, Google Maps will move to offline mode automatically when it realizes the user is in a location with spotty service or no connectivity. When a connection is found Google Maps will also switch back online so users can access the full version of Maps, which includes live traffic conditions for routes. It is also important to note that by default, Google Maps will only download areas when a user is on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.
“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,” Google said in its blog announcement. “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.”
The updated offline Maps functionality is currently only available on Google Maps for Android, but will be coming to iOS soon. What’s more, Google notes that it will introduce more offline features over time.