Google Maps Offline Navigation and Search is now available on Android devices, it has recently been announced. According to company officials, the feature will soon be introduced on iOS gadgets as well.
The much-anticipated functionality will finally give users the chance to consult maps even without having a WiFi connection or consuming limited mobile data.
The new upgrade had been initially teased at the annual developer conference Google I/O, which took place between May 28 and May 29, at the Moscone Center, in San Francisco, California.
Back then, it was promised that this would allow users to access turn-by-turn directions, provided that their particular route has been saved in order to be consulted offline. Moreover, navigation would also remain active when connection was lost while using Google Maps.
Indeed, this new feature provides exactly what it had initially claimed. Users can choose which map section they would like to download, in order to access it whenever they please.
While the possibility to save specific map areas has been available since 2012, now one can actually steer through them, like when they were online. Users can even generate a customized description of that segment, in order to differentiate it from others.
Although it’s obvious that Offline Navigation and Search won’t provide up-to-date information about the actual stream of vehicles on that route, the program will still show average arrival times, based on prior traffic congestion indicators.
It will also offer other information regarding local businesses, such as names, ratings and phone-numbers, but due to limited space it won’t be including photographs or reviews as well.
One day, it might even be possible to detect certain destinations where the user will have to be present, provided that they are included as calendar meetings. This would allow the app to automatically download routes taking the customer to that precise spot, even without having to receive such a request in advance.
For now, the update only focuses on driving directions and boasts greater speed and accessibility than ever before, but it is expected that new versions of the app will also provide walking suggestions and public transport options.
The new Offline Navigation and Search feature is greatly beneficial to those who travel to remote locations, or who visit foreign countries where 4G LTE coverage isn’t as extensive, cheap or common as in the United States.
In fact, approximately 60% of the world’s population still has no access to Internet, and even American users complain of slow connection speeds. According to Amanda Bishop, Product Manager for Google Maps, around 10% of the time those who use the popular app get no search results, or navigation takes too long to load.
While having a fast and stable wireless connection might be ideal for running Google Maps successfully, failure to satisfy this condition will no longer leave users stranded in the middle of nowhere.
This is because GPS actually isn’t entirely dependent on data connection, and can still function and identify the best routes, as long as some data is stored on mobile devices.
Aside from the benefits the new feature will offer to individuals who use Google Maps, there is also an added advantage, which refers to autonomous vehicles.
While actual drivers might find other ways to inform themselves about their journey, robotic cars would be stumped if there was no smooth transition between online and offline mode, allowing them to still access digital cartography.
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