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This is fantastic news for anyone who travels internationally — beginning today, Google is rolling out an updated version of the Maps app that gives you (nearly) full access to the application without an internet connection.
While you could pre-load or cache certain areas of a map before, you’ll have much more functionality now, letting you search for addresses, pull up information on businesses (including reviews, contact info and hours of operation) and even get turn-by-turn driving directions, just like you can do with a standalone GPS unit.
Once you have the updated app (which Google is now rolling out for Android, with iOS coming soon), there are two easy ways to add offline content:
- Search for a city or country and tap “download” on the results page.
- Go to “Offline Areas” in the main menu and hit the “+” button, then type in the destination you’d like to add.
You can manually force Google Maps into offline mode by setting your phone to airplane mode or disabling the data connection — note that while you’re offline, you’ll have access to everything outlined above, though you obviously won’t be able to see live traffic info, which is arguably one of Google Maps’ most valuable attributes.
Of course, the best option is to get Google’s Project Fi service — unfortunately it’s only available with recent Nexus phones, but once you sign up you’ll be able to get data in 120+ countries for $10 per GB. Speeds are capped at 256Kbps, though there are exceptions, and that’s plenty fast for Maps.
Know before you go.
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