Google Maps is getting offline navigation on Android today, iOS update coming 'soon'


Google Maps is the industry leader when it comes to mapping, but for years users have criticized it for not having a fully functional offline navigation capabilities. This changes via an update scheduled to arrive on Android today (the update is coming to iOS 'soon') that brings offline search and navigation to Google Maps.

It works by first prompting the user to save an area and the app downloads an offline map. By default, the map will update once every 15 days with updates happening when the phone is plugged to a charger and connected to Wi-Fi, so that the actual map data is still fairly up to date.

There are some minor limitation: businesses registered on Google Maps will appear with only their names, star ratings, and phone numbers, but there will be no photos or user reviews (this would still be displayed if you have mobile data). You also cannot switch to a satellite view, and there are no offline walking or public transport directions.


But despite all these minor cons, this is a massive update that fixes one of the most often heard comments about Google Maps. Also, it's all about speed.

"We've been working on all of this stuff for two to three years," Google project manager Amanda Bishop said. "Google Maps happened to be really slow or completely unusable in many scenarios due to limited mobile internet. "Users now don't have to do all that screenshot jujitsu before they leave [in case they lose access], and there's much faster load times for search and driving directions."

She further explained that "everybody on our team who uses it can't stand it when they have to use the old app because it's crazy how frequently you find yourself seeing that spinner waiting for results. Once you get used to it returning them in a second every single time, you quickly get used to how snappy the app feels."


source: Google via BBC

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42 Comments

37. HR_19

Posts: 103; Member since: Aug 09, 2014

This is so frustrating, because the Google Maps app is awesome for functionality, UI, and other things, but its offline maps capabilities are way too limited. I can't even get all of the tri-county area in Oregon in one shot, nonetheless Salem, Eugene, Vancouver and Seattle, WA...Here maps has the best offline experience I've ever used.

38. HR_19

Posts: 103; Member since: Aug 09, 2014

What if you're gonna do a cross country road trip? It'd be a pain in the butt to download all those maps, unless you've got Here, just download the states you want, or the whole country!

36. techguyone

Posts: 214; Member since: May 18, 2013

If nothing else, it's made Here a lot less appealing, they'll have to step up a bit now to up their game. Here is very definitely a second rate player in terms of Ui & even dare I say it.. navigation, I have Here as a secondary on my phone in case of no mobile coverage, but when trialling it, it quickly became obvious it wasn't as good as Google Maps. It couldn't even find one address (in a reasonably sized town) Hell on the pre-map planning screen you can't even display it in landscape (despite lots of people including me, telling them in a beta test program) I expect I'll be removing Here & freeing up some space on my phone unless they make some significant improvements to it.

18. SIGPRO

Posts: 2819; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Here Maps is superior to Google Maps......period! Google you are a few years late!

21. hurrycanger

Posts: 1778; Member since: Dec 01, 2013

New roads show up on Google Maps in weeks. It has been almost 2 years and the new roads near my place aren't even on Here Maps yet. Talking about a few years late...

28. SIGPRO

Posts: 2819; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

I don't know were you live but my Here Maps is updated at least once a month! And Here Maps is better than Google and iOS Maps. And still Google is late Here Maps has true offline turn by turn navigation for some years now! Why do you think the big German car manufacturers bought it!

29. Unordinary unregistered

Why do you like Here? Just curious. I tried it but cant stand it. Can't stand that inferior robot voice and prefer listening to my high quality Siri voice you can download that sounds like an actual person is talking to you. I use Google Maps when I can enter destinations before I am driving but Siri is flawless when I tell her to take me to X when we are already driving down the road and being spontaneous. Googles voice also sounds kind of...robotic :/

30. SIGPRO

Posts: 2819; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

iOS Maps flawless? I am using Here Maps on a Nokia/Microsoft phone the experience is way different from Here Maps on Android or iOS! And the voice is not robotic. Also I can choose different voices! My girl has a Android phone Google Maps really sucks, the voice is maybe normal for 1 minute and after that it's fast or really slow like a robot.

44. Unordinary unregistered

I said Siri was flawless, but since you brought up the topic, yes, iOS Maps is also flawless. Never had an accident, unlike Google Maps and Waze, which is unacceptable for where I live (NYC). Never had an issue with Here also.

15. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

So can we download the state? or do I have to put in a small area and download only the area? From the looks of it, I have to search for a city first and then download...

16. DFranch

Posts: 573; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

This really isn't much of an improvement if I can't download a state, or entire country like Here maps.

11. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1887; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

I hope it's just as good as Sygic

10. natypes

Posts: 1110; Member since: Feb 02, 2015

Wait, I thought iOS got all the updates first? Oh, you mean only instagram and facebook and candy crush and other useless apps? Oh, ok.

20. AlikMalix unregistered

Actually Apple had been getting Google maps updates before android for quite some time. To be honest iPhones had Google maps way before android was, well, android.

24. Kary1

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 26, 2015

I'm not sure iOS had GM Navigation before Android--I recall that taking a while.

26. AlikMalix unregistered

You missed my point... The first few iPhones had Google Maps as standard starting 2007 (before android existed).

41. natypes

Posts: 1110; Member since: Feb 02, 2015

Ignore him, he's just the iPhag troll around here.

9. Acer_Predator unregistered

Well guys it is only now bcos of money of course.. Now all navigation makers will be going balistic and probably will sue google

8. Scott93274

Posts: 6044; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

LOL, Am I the only one shocked that the update was released on Android before iOS?

19. AlikMalix unregistered

Yeah android is getting better.

7. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Wow! Why has this taken so long? GM can't be taken seriously with omissions like this

5. DarkStar286

Posts: 229; Member since: Mar 18, 2014

I can't believe Google Maps is only just getting offline navigation, my N8 had it over 4 years ago and I think it was even available on the S60 phones long before that. Still, nice to see Google finally adding this feature, though for the life of me I can't work out why it's taken this long.

27. monoke

Posts: 1216; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Yep, Nokia maps was solid. I also had hacked garmin on my N95 lol. Both were solid offline maps!

3. benno

Posts: 94; Member since: Apr 17, 2015

Cool.

2. ShadowHammer

Posts: 213; Member since: Mar 13, 2015

Yay, Google Maps has finally arrived where Here Maps has been for a few years! I do like Google Maps on a desktop or laptop browser, but don't mess with it on a phone due to offline issues and cell coverage limitations. I may have to give it a try again. It's good to have options.

4. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

I dont have any cell coverage issue in Canada. I tried here maps and i dont like it personally.

6. igorb81

Posts: 80; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Except Here Maps is rubbish in terms of functionality and UI. I have used it when it worked. I tried it again a month ago and it was locking up and freezing and did not work so I have uninstalled it and I doubt that I will ever use it again. I have used Copilot for some time that worked fine for me which is fully functioning GPS Navigation app that has more features than anything else on the market. I never liked Waze too childish looking and too busy and very limiting IMHO. I don't encounter traffic much in my daily life so this is not really that important for me. I can't wait to try new Google Maps which I prefer to any other navigation app. This is nice to have for those moments when you are off the grid in remote areas and it does happen even with Verizon mighty coverage.

14. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Don't have that problem with here maps, if I did that for anyapp or os I would be relegated to a flipphone...

17. catt4u

Posts: 145; Member since: Jul 09, 2011

No cell coverage issue in The Netherlands. Google Maps rules! Most detailed maps and routes for car/bike/pedestrian AND public transport. Way better than Here :-)

32. Oxygen

Posts: 125; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Here Maps' only good feature was offline navigation, but Google Maps just rendered it obsolete.

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