Next time you need directions to a place but don't have a good connectivity on your phone, Google Maps will still be able to offer help. The Mountain View-based company announced on Tuesday that it is introducing offline navigation and search features to its mapping service on Android. The company says that iOS client of Maps will get these features "soon".
Google says that it has redesigned the service to accommodate the new features. Users will now be able to download maps of specific areas of the cities or states and save them on their phone. When your phone is connected back to a good network, the app will automatically go online and offer other Maps features such as live traffic updates. The offline navigation feature is similar to what's offered by Here, formerly Nokia-owned mapping service.
You've had the ability to download and use Google Maps offline for a while now, but this is the first time Google will be offering other features like turn-by-turn navigation and providing information about places, like hours of operation, contact information, as well as ratings.
The company had first announced its plans to deliver these features at the I/O developer conference earlier this year. The offline navigation support may not sound as useful to people in developed nations as they have nearly-ubiquitous connectivity, but the vast majority of users in other parts of the world don't have such luxury.
Google says roughly 60 percent of the world doesn't have access to reliable and fast Internet connection -- or at times, any connection. "This is a huge problem, especially as people attempt to navigate and explore the world around them, so Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions and get where they're going, even when they don't have an Internet connection," Amanda Bishop, Product Manager at Google while announcing the new feature.