When it comes to navigation apps, few names surpass Google Maps. That being said, unless you are able to benefit from such apps in offline mode while on the move, they don’t prove to be all that helpful. Even if you opt to resort to your mobile data during navigation, chances are that you might end up reaching (or even, exceeding) your cap, without even making it to your destination. In short, the app beckons for support for offline mode, of course, along with several other sought-after features. Of the few handy new features that the latest update (5.7.0, as of this writing) of Google Maps for Android brings, the long-awaited support for offline maps tops the list. Particularly useful for smartphone users with a limited data plan, the Download map area option allows you to save map tiles in a 10 mile radius around regions of your choice and lets you explore and get directions within said regions without an active internet connection. The feature has been included as part of the experimental features grouped under Menu > More > Labs. Join us after the break for a brief, simple how-to.
The operation is quite simple.
- On the map, hold down on a point within the area that you wish to download.
- Tap the tooltip/bubble that appears over it and select Download map area from the bottom of the options menu that follows,
- Alternatively, you may search for a location (Search button or Menu > Search), tap it once to display its tooltip, then tap the tooltip and select More > Download map area from the screen that follows.
- Once the area around the selected location is downloaded, the app outlines it within the map.
- You can rename or delete saved downloaded areas from Menu > More > Cache Settings > Downloaded map areas.
That’s all there is to it. The feature only allows you to download map tiles. Satellite and traffic views are not downloadable as of yet. Needless to say, the amount of time required to download map content depends upon the area that you may have specified. In this regard, the app keeps you apprised of the total download progress via the notification bar alerts, compete with the information about the area that is currently being downloaded.
Therefore, if you’re rather discontent with all the various third party map downloading solutions on offer, now is the time to revert to the original Google Maps app to get your hands on said feature.