You can now navigate offline on Google Maps

Google Maps offline view

Traditional paper maps have always had one advantage over the modern digital maps: You can use them without a data connection (obviously). This was one of the biggest problems about digital maps until HERE maps (Previously known as Ovi Maps then later Nokia Maps) made offline navigation a reality for digital maps. That feature always makes me turn to Here Maps if I was in an area with no data access, until today.

Google has announced that from today, you will be able to download maps straight to your phone for offline access on Google Maps. In offline mode, you will be able to search for destinations, get turn by turn driving directions and also get information about a particular place, just like what you would get when you are online.

So how would I download these maps for offline use? Well there are two ways of doing this: Go to the Google Maps menu, look for “Offline Areas” and tap on the “+” button or alternatively tapping the “Download” button after making a swipe up gesture on the app. The resulting information might be quite large so the maps will be downloaded by default when you are on Wi-Fi.

There is also a nifty feature baked in Google Maps with this update. When you download a map for offline access, the app will go offline automatically when you have a spotty internet connection. The app will automatically switch on data access if it finds a stable connection. On offline mode, you cannot be able to receive live traffic information and that is only available when you are online.

The new feature is rolling gradually to the Android app and later to the iOS app and Google promises they will add more online features in the future.

Will this new update make you use Google Maps more than Here Maps?