Google Maps gets downloaded maps for offline use on Android

Google Maps gets downloaded maps for offline use on Android
Google Labs is a treasure trove of goodies that few users know about let alone use. Labs adds functionality to many Google products from Gmail to Docs, and now a new labs feature for Google Maps on Android will allow you to download map areas for offline use. Of course, since this is a labs feature and not fully baked in the use is pretty limited right now. 

For starters, you'll need an Android phone with 2.1 or higher, and the newest version of Google Maps (version 5.7). Once inside, tap the menu button, then the "More" button and go to labs. Check the "Download Map Area" feature, then when you're on a map, any Places page will now include an option to download the map area around that place. Each map block covers a 10 mile radius (~16 km), which can then be used offline. 

Unfortunately, by "use" we mean you can look at the map in detail down to a 20 foot (~6 m) scale, but that's about it. You'll still need an internet connection to get directions, search for Places, use 3D buildings view or switch to satellite view. Another issue is that any downloaded maps will be automatically deleted from your cache after 30 days regardless of how often you use the map, meaning you'll have to re-download any maps you want to have.

So, a downloaded map essentially is just as useful as a paper map, but if you're competent at finding places and navigating yourself anyway, this could be a pretty nice feature to use if you don't have a consistent data connection. It's certainly worth giving a try. 



1. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

Now only if it can download entire cities for a 100+ mile radius, and have directions/navigation OFFLINE, then that will make a lot of people happy. Including my Wifi Galaxy Tab who doesn't get interwebz in the car.

2. Galen20K

Posts: 579; Member since: Dec 26, 2008

word! I would LOVE to use my Galaxy tab 10.1 in that way.

3. PC unregistered

It looks like Google doesn't know or doesn't want to make offline navigatin. I am just too tired to wait for Google to make something that other systems have for a long time.

8. PhoneLuver

Posts: 481; Member since: Jul 05, 2010

Very true buddy! I bought the Tom Tom app. Who can really afford all that data traffic, and it's pretty useless if you're on a road where there is no or limited coverage!

4. Guidedaryl unregistered

Why such limited features? I'm hoping the fully baked offline maps Will be as good as the one Nokia has.

5. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

Nokia has had these features for quite a long time

6. droidnator

Posts: 93; Member since: Mar 10, 2011

Full-blown offline maps would be a huge asset to Google. They should really follow the example of Ovi Maps. That would put them ahead of competition big time!

7. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

How is this so difficult to get right?

9. PGS unregistered

I don't know why so much hate here. It's a nice start albeit a very limited one. But as the article states, it's still in the beta phase, which is used to test-drive features and get public feedback, so we can expect improvements over the coming months. BTW, yes, I've used Nokia maps on a 5800 and it is quite impressive so I expect nothing less of Google :).

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