Google Maps Will Work Offline, Eliminating Its Biggest Weakness With a New Update 

When a lost signal doesn't mean you are. 

Having vanquished the hydras of paper maps and MapQuest and getting lost, Google Maps, that little oracle in your pocket, is getting patched up. Like all good Greek heroes, or at least that one guy, Google Maps had a killer weakness: crappy signals. But a new update smooths out that dent in its armor, allowing you to download an area in advance. Yes, Google Maps now functions offline.

Hot it works


Offline, you’ll be able to get turn-by-turn navigation where once you could only look at a map. Points of interest on the map are searchable, too, but there’s no indication if those locations will be updated, or if they’re locked in when you make the initial download.

Here’s what that looks like, per Google’s announcement:

You’ll find the new feature in the November 10 update for Android (iPhone users: Google says it’s coming shortly for iOS).

It’s fairly easy to download areas: Just search for the particular expanse where you think you might not have service, and then press a button. Google announced in a blog post that “by default, we’ll only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.” Presumably you’ll be able to turn off this default setting, though, so you can find your way around a large city when you can’t find wifi.

Google first previewed this feature back in May during this I/O conference. Watch:

But, like the ancient ritual of sticking the right map in a glove compartment, this takes — gasp — planning, because the point is that you’ll anticipate where you’ll be when you lose the signal.

This is the first of other planned offline features Google’s going to add to its Maps app, too: “We’ll be introducing even more offline features to help you find your way—even when you can’t find a connection.”

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