Death to the sat nav? Google Maps gets offline search and navigation

Off-road, offline

Maps

Google has announced that Maps is getting offline search and directions, from today on Android and coming soon to iOS.

We first heard about the feature at Google I/O back in May. With it, you'll be able to download a chunk of map and then use the search and direction features, while also seeing opening hours and contact information for businesses.

Between wider internet delivery and its Android One OS standard, Google is thinking big about the developing world. Making its Maps offline is a big part of the initiative to bring its services to parts of the planet without access to the internet and expensive technology.

Car-tography (because you're in a car, geddit)

"Roughly 60 per cent of the world is without internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty," said Google in a blog post. "That means that quick and easy access to information is still not possible for a majority of the population"

When you're in an area of the map that you have downloaded, Google will keep an eye on your connection - if it drops, you'll be taken into offline mode automatically. That means you won't get things like live traffic updates, but you'll still be able to see where you're going.

When you find a connection again, Google will give you a little alert to let you know you're back online.

"By default, we'll only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees," Google adds.

What it doesn't add is that this is another massive blow to dedicated sat navs, which have tried to stay relevant in face of better smartphone navigation.

"Over time, we'll be introducing even more offline features to help you find your way - even when you can't find a connection."

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