Roamers rejoice! Google Maps gets offline regional navigation

Update rids backpackers of reliance on ruinous data roaming

Google has updated its offline functionality for its Maps application allowing wayward or data-bereft travelers the opportunity to download regional maps at WiFi hotspots and receive turn-by-turn navigation without an internet connection.

The offline feature is an older feature that has been upgraded to include directions and information on local businesses and attractions within a downloaded area.

There are limits for the size of areas that can be captured for offline viewing: this reporter's attempts to download Australia, Britain, and the continental United States failed, for example.

San Francisco can however be downloaded at a cost of 375Mb.

"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 product boss Amanda Bishop says .

Google Maps gif

Google Maps offline.

"Now you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there’s no connectivity—whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage -- Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly.

"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 [and] 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."

The navigation feature will be particularly useful for voice navigation within long tunnels and for globe-trotting Australians unable to access data through the nation's shonky telcos.

The feature is available in the latest Google Maps update for modern Android systems and will hit iOS later. ®


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