Google has finally started to roll out an important Maps update it first announced back in May at its annual Google I/O conference. Despite mobile networks offering better coverage than ever, Google has taken until now to decide that a lack of connectivity when people are attempting to navigate and explore "is a huge problem". It says that roughly 60 per cent of the world doesn't have internet access and even if it is available it can be 'spotty'.
With the updated Google Maps app users will be able to download an area of the world to their phone. Then, the next time that there is little or no signal, "Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly". Turn-by-turn navigation will continue to function; you will be able to search for new destinations and even still find out useful info about places such as opening hours, contact info and customer ratings. With a live internet connection unavailable Google Maps won't be able to keep track of live traffic conditions, for instance, but once connectivity is regained that information flow will resume.
Google says that it will only download areas to user devices on Wi-Fi to prevent excessive data fees. The last time I used an Android smartphone regularly I noticed that Google Maps was the largest user of data of all my apps, in my cellular data usage graphs. That prompted me to opt to use HERE maps most of the time.
I will be testing the new Google Maps to see if having the Manchester region, where I frequently drive, downloaded means that much less mobile data will be used on a typical journey. The update allowing map saving, as shown in the embedded GIF animations, isn't available to me to download as yet. iOS devices will also be receiving this offline update 'soon', says Google.