At Google I/O 2015, the company had revealed plans to bring offline search to its Maps app and had stressed it was aimed mainly for "emerging markets" where Internet connection was spotty, and data charges were expensive, as navigation via GPS was independent of mobile networks.
The launch of offline Maps in India comes just days after Google officially introduced the feature on Android. While offline Maps were available previously on the app, features including offline navigation and search features are some of the additions. Another notable feature is the information about specific locations such as hours of operation, contact information, as well as ratings which will also be accessible offline.
For using an offline map, users will need to download the map of an area on the device, and it will continue to work when there's no connectivity. Once an area has been saved for offline access, users can also enable turn-by-turn driving directions as well as search for specific destinations even when there is no Internet connection.
The company explains that when a connection is found, Maps will switch to online automatically and will allow users to access the full version of the app such as live traffic conditions for the current route. It's worth noting that Google Maps will only download offline areas on the device when on a Wi-Fi connection.
Announcing the offline features for Maps in a post, Google said it will be arriving soon for iOS users in India.
In an emailed statement, Suren Ruhela, Director, Google Maps, said, "Having a spotty internet connection shouldn't mean you miss your next turn. With the launch of these new offline features, like turn by turn navigation and the ability to search for places, we hope it will be easier for people in India to find their way using Google Maps."