MOUNTAIN VIEW – Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) shared on its blog Tuesday that the new Maps version would allow users to download city maps when connected to WiFi. Streets, local stores, restaurants and businesses will be saved on their mobile devices so they can have access to directions in offline areas.
According to the blog post, which was written by Google’s Product Manager, Amanda Bishop, once users download an area the app will automatically switch to offline mode when it recognizes a location with a weak or nonexistent internet connection. Then it will move into online mode as soon as it finds a connection, allowing access to the full version, which includes real-time traffic conditions.
By default, downloads will be only available when the device is connected to Wi-Fi in order to avoid large data fees, since files can be as large as 375 megabytes.
“Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty. That means that quick and easy access to information is still not possible for a majority of the population,” the post stated. Therefore, Google Maps keeps on expanding the app’s access in markets with a weak internet service.
Previously, users could only view an area of the map offline. With the latest update they can “get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings,” as explained by Bishop.
Nonetheless, the offline navigation feature is only available for driving, but Google has mentioned its intentions to incorporate transit and walking navigations as well.
“Over time, we’ll be introducing even more offline features to help you find your way — even when you can’t find a connection,” wrote Bishop. This feature will certainly be helpful to people who use the subway, live in rural areas and also to those who are frequently out of the country and want to keep expensive roaming fees out of their way.
Google Maps happens to be the No. 1 downloaded map app. The firm also owns Waze, which is an increasingly popular mapping app that Google bought for $1.1 billion in 2013.
Source: Google Blog