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New version of Google Maps gets offline navigations

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November 12
8:45 PM 2015

Google Inc. has launched a new version of Google Maps that allows users to get offline navigation and search. The redesigned Google Maps service allows users to download detailed maps of the specific area to their phones, so they can get directions even when they find themselves without connectivity.

The new version of Google Maps also allows offline users to find business' locations, opening hours and telephone numbers.

The offline feature would be helpful to users located in rural areas where Internet connectivity is weak or might not be available at all.

Roughly 60% of the world is without the Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty, wrote Google's Product Manager Amanda Bishop on Google's blog.

Bishop added that Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions and get where they're going, even when they don't have an Internet connection.

The offline Google Maps would also be helpful for hikers, mountain bikers and skiers, who are frequently outside of connected areas. It would also help tourists visiting places outside their mobile plans and people living in emerging markets to avoid expensive data consumption.

According to CNet, the users can download an area by searching the area they would like to save for offline access. When the resulting place sheet showed, tap on the name of a place on the bottom of the screen, then tap three-dot-icon in the top right corner of the screen, and select "save online map".

The users then will be asked to adjust the area to be saved by panning and zooming around. Once the size is fit, the users can tap on "Save" and give a name on the offline map.

To download most of Greater London would take up 380 MB on a device while San Francisco Bay area download would require about 200 MB.

By default, the maps will only download when users are connected to Wi-Fi, and the service will switch seamlessly to offline mode if there is a spotty connection.

The downloaded offline maps will update every 15 days when connected to Wi-Fi, so the users will have an up-to-date map to access traffic and accident information.

However, the offline mode has some limitations. The users cannot switch to a satellite view on offline maps, and while the app provides driving directions, it will not offer walking or public transport based route.

The users are also unable to see reviews posted about restaurants and other business and user-generated photos on offline mode.

As reported by BBC News, Google has been working on Google Maps offline service for two or three years. The new version of Google Maps is only available for Android, and soon to be available for iOS.

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