Google Maps offline

Google today at a small event in San Francisco announced that it's taking Google Maps offline. That's right, no more will you be beholden to your data connection. Or if traveling abroad (or on a subway, for instance), you'll be able to kill data altogether and still find your way around. This, ladies and germs, is a big deal. What's more is that it's not just macro-level mapping. You'll be able to zoom all the way down into street view, sans data. You can't have it just yet, but Google says it's coming soon enough.

Google also showed off a backpack-type Street View rig -- powered by Android, if you'll believe it -- that's taken us down to street level in places cars can't go. Pretty slick.

And then there's 3D modeling in Google Earth. Google walked us through how it does things, making them better all the time. Its modeling has taken a big leap forward with the use of airplanes and oblique mapping, with computers doing some serious number crunching to make things impossibly smooth. It'll be coming to both Android and iOS devices in ridiculous resolution.

 
There are 45 comments

nathanh48 says:

THIS! is definitely what I've been waiting for.

briankurtz79 says:

this will make tomtom double think bringing an app to android. who would buy that when gmaps can now go anywhere. that is unless you wanna hear snoop dog or carrot top read your nav directions.!lol!!

oh and i dont think youll be seeing much if any of this on ios devices seeing as how apple is going with its own most likely lame maps this fall.

jean15paul says:

meh

zer0vette says:

communist :)

stsh0502 says:

i still don't get whats so new and great about this. its already in google maps as a lab feature and its not very useful, unless they significantly increase the amount of map that can be stored for offline use.

Linebarrel86 says:

The lab version is limited. This will include a much larger download of map data. It will resemble how Garmin and TomTom apps on mobile phones such as the iPhone store the data. You can go into airplane mode and still use your phone like a dedicated GPS unit.

wraith404 says:

IMO, this news is only big if it includes being able to calculate a navigation route autonomously with downloaded data.

icebike says:

Also not mentioned is the amount of storage you might need to cover your travels.
How's that 16gig phone looking now AT&T?

Impulses says:

I doubt it'll be a serious issue... You think stand alone GPS have a few GB of data stored inside those $100 units? Not even close, I bought maps covering the entirety of Europe for a Garmin GPS a few years ago and the file easily fit inside a half gig card... Until a few years ago most car nav units worked off DVD (not a ton of storage, and slow storage at that).

I'm sure more detailed maps and/or the addition of more points of interest would slowly make that file size creep up but most of those devices use vector drawn graphics (as does Google), so it's not like you're storing gobs of jpegs or pngs for different map tiles and zoom levels. There's always compression too...

We only moved to online based solutions for convenience, not because storage was an issue. Online stored maps are obviously easier to keep up to date, etc.

That being said, I'm glad the EVO LTE has a micro SD slot, and I'm sure once implemented this feature will come with a disclaimer that you need X amount of free space to take advantage of it... I seriously doubt you'll ever need more than a GB for it tho. A lot of average consumers get by with 10-16GB because they're simply not storing much besides a few hundred pics, songs, and half a dozen games.

crxssi says:

The lab version is completely useless.

1) It is hard to use
2) It stores almost nothing
3) The data disappears in 30 days or something

This new development is *HUGE*, if you ask me. I just hope they are very good about allowing the user full control over areas, how much data is locally stored, and how/when it is updated.

krispy521 says:

Oh. I can't wait to try it on the Transformer Prime with the GPS dongle.

jean15paul says:

LOL

TimmyB says:

How funny that the same day TomTom announces they are coming to Android, Google makes this announcement. If Google implements this correctly (meaning, true off-line access), it would totally squash any paid competition. That's the one thing that keeps me from using Google maps when I travel; I don't want to chew up my miniature data plan. If I could store the entire country on my phone permanently, and then just call up a map to someplace, that is HUGE.

icebike says:

Also mention of IOS support about the same time Apple is rumored to be dropping Google Maps in favor of some other source on their next phones.

JCisMe says:

Google maps already supports offline caching of map areas, so what exactly is new here? Does this mean I'm going to cache the ENTIRE country on my phone? Please tell me there is a way to turn that off, or configure exactly how much data is cached.

gcims says:

From what I can tell when I using Google maps, it stores small amounts of the detailed street level maps in the area you are in. The beta or labs cached 10 square miles of an area you selected. This is new because I'm guessing it's out of beta and it will store more map data in cache. How it determines all that remains to be seen without killing your storage.

janesa13 says:

In the old days of nokia ovi maps, the entire US map is only in the low few hundred MBs.
Adding some extra details would most likely bump that a bit but i don't think it would be in the GBs range for US map.

Also, I'm assuming that this is only for the maps and navigation. If you need to check traffic or use satellite view, then it would still need data connection.

crxssi says:

The lab version (cache) is completely useless.

1) It is hard to use
2) It stores almost nothing
3) The data disappears in 30 days or something

This new development is *HUGE*, if you ask me. I just hope they are very good about allowing the user full control over areas, how much data is locally stored, and how/when it is updated.

ncobs says:

I've been wanting this since I got my phone last spring, awesome awesome news. I've found a couple apps that work like this, but they're not all that cheap, awesome to see the Goog is gonna bring it to us free :)

Masheen says:

I hope this save the extraordinary amount of battery that maps uses while active.

icebike says:

I use maps all the time, and it never rises above a couple percent of battery usage.

AndroidOne says:

Is not the Maps app that kills the battery, is the extra display, data and GPS radio usage that goes with on-line nav solutions.

Using on-board maps will only save the extra data radio usage; display being the most power hungry of these factors, I would expect modest improvement in power usage with an on-board maps solution. Nonetheless, the ability to fully navigate - and re-route - in areas with poor or no data signal (Sprint, I am talking to you...) is a welcome addition to Google Nav.

buckly024 says:

I'm still waiting for Google maps 8 bit for my NES!....lol

SamOliver says:

The pre-cache map area in labs works good, but it's a little clunky in that it just caches a 10X10 mile rectangle around wherever you click. I wish you could cache the entire country at once.

hmmm says:

And the number one thing that made a stand alone GPS better than Google maps just disappeared. This means my old smart phone can now be my new GPS.

JSKershaw says:

With this news there won't be any need to get the TomTom application that's supposed to be launched very soon. Did anyone else notice that it only took 2.9MB to download all of London in the demo? That's pretty cool that the file size is so small for a large city. I can see people downloading a whole country in less than 1GB.

moises1204 says:

Hahaha, just when apple thought it was caching up to Google and android, Google does this to them!! i am loving it keeps apple in the rear view mirror.

noszero says:

This is a big deal to me. Have you ever been lost and your phone has no service so you can't use navigation because it can't DL the map? I have and this is what I have wanted ever since. I'm not going to carry a TomTom around but I always have my Gnex.

craigdolson says:

With this new development, the folks at TomTom have to be just thrilled... How could they compete now? As a user of the TomTom for IOS app, there is just not an appreciable difference in the quality of the service to justify the 40-50$ price tag..

Bigmo1972 says:

Good news! I drive a truck and go alot if places that don't have signal

Hand_O_Death says:

Wow this is exactly what I just was talking about in the Tom tom article this is awesome

Incitatus says:

...writes down the names Garmin and TomTom so I don't forget who they were.

Everyone who's saying they can't wait for this or are going to buy the TomTom app, you need to check out Navfree. Free offline navigation has been available on Android for a while now...

thekiwi says:

Not quite the same. NavFree is a great app but
* It relies on open source mapping and in some areas (small towns) the maps are almost non existant in detail and despite being opensource you cant update them form the website to your device.
* You cant do an address search nwithout an internet connection. So if you can presearch a location, add it as a favourite, then sure ... its great ... but if you want to look up somewhere without a connection then you are pretty much stuffed.

This is with Version 1.9.7 Build 8035

This is definitely good for boaters without cell signal or lost hikers

larrytxeast says:

This is WAY overdue. I have been SCREAMING forever about how the entire US should be on the phone, every level of zoom, so that absolutely no data connection whatsoever is needed to make it work.

You know one other feature I'd like to see, both for Google Maps & stand-alones? A "suspend & resume" feature that lets you venture off-route (like, say, if you see a garage sale sign & want to check it out) that "pauses" at the point you departed off-route and DOES NOT re-route, but instead just instructs you how to get back where you were at before you ventured off and from there you just resume the originally intended route. As much as I love GPS units, I think sometimes we don't think about where we are & learn the local streets because the GPS does EVERYTHING for us, this way you could resume the original route. To me, I think doing that, versus re-routing the entire trip, would help one learn the local streets better.

AndroidOne says:

While I don't thnik this would be helpful to me - I am perfectly fine with re-routing, is just fast enough as it is - I would like the ability to add waypoints beyond the start and destination points of the trip.

sburggsx says:

This would be nice if it works right. Whenever I tether my TF101 Transformer and try to use the map app it crashes. It used to work great. If I could cache a large area, and be able to point the files to say my SD card, well that would be awesome.

crxssi says:

Good point. Many ICS devices, like the Evo LTE, can't store apps or data on the card, only the internal partition. Hopefully there is a setting that will allow the data to be on a card, because this stuff is going to gobble a lot of storage.

Impulses says:

Not necessarily... You think stand alone GPS have a few GB of data stored inside those $100 units? Not even close, I bought maps covering the entirety of Europe for a Garmin GPS a few years ago and the file easily fit inside a half gig card... Until a few years ago most car nav units worked off DVD (not a ton of storage, and slow storage at that).

I'm sure more detailed maps and/or the addition of more points of interest would slowly make that file size creep up but most of those devices use vector drawn graphics (as does Google), so it's not like you're storing gobs of jpegs or pngs for different map tiles and zoom levels. There's always compression too...

We only moved to online based solutions for convenience, not because storage was an issue. Online stored maps are obviously easier to keep up to date, etc.

ICU812 says:

Awesome. That should mean I can now use my old android phone as a dedicated gps unit in my car. Thanks Google.

brianzion says:

great news definitely a step in the right direction for google maps.

Kingkwong88 says:

I just hope that this s available to world wide Android developer community too. Currently, the Google Earth is not available to Singapore. Singapore has a lot of mobile developers, but seems like iOS is on par or have better developer support. Hope that Google will make the download available to Singapore Android community.

nexus owner says:

That's good news for the Nexus 7. I'm about to become an ex-owner with a very large case of buyer's remorese if this isn't fixed PRONTO !!!
The Google Nexus 7 was released with all sorts of fanfare about how versatile it would be without chaining you to a data subscription. BULL####

It's got it's own dedicated GPS, but prompts you to OK location tracking everytime you try to use MAPS, Navigator. AND it only caches about enough data to get you 20 min or so of travel time before you run out of detail. I'm not so geo-challenged that I need GPS to tell me where I am 20 min from now. I needed a GPS that's at least as good as the one on my android phone (or I'll just stick with my old dedicated unit, which with it's 5-year old database is still better than Google Maps on a Nexus 7.

Come on guys, I paid up for the 16 Gig unit, give me my money's worth of Maps data without having to pull into a Starbucks for 10 min to "reload" every half hour. That decision is either the dumbest thing you guys have done, or the largest bait and switch since Apple introduced their i-everythings.

Can the Google-droids tell me when this "UPGRADE" (Sound like Apple again??) will be released, because right now, after a week of use, I'm ready to send my Nexus back to the "cloud" for a refund.

John Brown1 says:

Ha. ridiculous.