Google has made finding your way around town easier by making it possible for smartphone users to download its maps for offline use.
The search company has implemented the feature for people that are not able to get a signal, or want to save on roaming charges when travelling overseas.
The feature was trialled in May of this year, but didn’t include some of the more critical functions, like turn-by-turn directions for motorists or a way to find a particular destination.
Smartphone users can now download the map data for a small area, such as a town centre or several city blocks, as well as larger areas such as cities. The catch is that there has to be enough storage space on the mobile device to accommodate the amount of data, so older smartphones may struggle with more demanding maps.
Although the Maps app has come under fire in the past, most notably for the Street View feature violating the privacy laws of some countries, it’s seen as a crucial part of Google’s services, especially for local businesses looking to market themselves to their community. It recently beefed up its Local Guides, which allows people to review local businesses and update information – territory traditionally held by Yelp.
Early reviews of this new feature have been generally positive, with a Google blog post stating:
“The next time you find there’s no connectivity — whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage — Google Maps will continue to work.”
The new feature is available for Android and iOS platforms.