Google Maps offline cache

User feedback prompts new 'offline maps' card and 'where's Latitude' button

When Google launched its new Maps app for some users yesterday, it was criticized by some for the way offline maps had been handled. The feature, accessible via menus in earlier Maps versions, could only be activated by searching for "OK Maps" in the new app, in a sort of Easter egg.

Today the app has been updated once again with an easier way to download offline map caches — tap the (empty) search bar and you'll find "Make this map area available offline." It's perhaps not the most obvious place to put this feature, nor the most elegant-looking card, but we can't fault Google's fast turnaround on this issue. (The "OK Maps" shortcut will continue to function in the new version, Google says.)

In addition, there's now a "Where's Latitude" button in the main menu area linking to Google's support page on Latitude's retirement. The service, which is absent from the new Maps app, will be closed entirely on Aug. 9.

If you're running the new version of Maps, you should see an update to your app this morning. As an aside we're now starting to see the new Google Maps 7.0 on more of our devices, so if you're not updated yet you might want to check your Play Store app for updates.

Source: Google+


Reader comments

New Google Maps updated with offline maps button


I'm amazed that Google was able/willing to update this fast.

The area that you can cache is more limited then it used to be but this is a lot better than typing 'OK Maps'...

They might've changed the max cache area in this update. I managed to cache the whole of Berlin, which is not a small city :)

Before I could cache the whole Chicago metro area in one gulp, but with the new version I had to split it into a few "tiles" to cover all the 'burbs. It does seem to remember where it's been, though, because when I cached a tile that had a lot of overlap with one I did before the download went really quickly. So, it's clearly doing something. Still would be nice if it would show you what it has stored, as someone mentioned below.

Most of the time I could never get Maps to work offline anyway. Try to launch and just get some stupid error.

But at least in the old versions we could SEE what we had cached and edit/add/delete. Now you can't see ANYTHING. You don't even know what size area you can cache, you just have to F'ing *GUESS* and keep trying until it is small enough.


Props to Google for the fast update. If this was Microsoft we would get it sometime in 2014 (yes, frustrated ex-WP user here).

I'm amazed that Google continues to make their apps worse. Without going into the whole debacle that is "Hangouts" to replace talk (it doesn't even have an online status indicator), just look at the removed functionality here... Latitude.

This isn't a situation of "an update broke my workflow," but more, "an update took away my workflow." Sure, you can do it in G+, but now I have to re-add everybody to that, instead of Latitude seamlessly transferring over to G+ AND when you pull up a friend's location in G+ that's it... there's nothing else you can do with that info. You can't seamlessly use Maps to see "What is there" or maybe toss to Maps to, oh I dunno, NAVIGATE to my friend. No, it just shows a location.

I love Google to death, but what they've been doing with their core apps lately is really discouraging.

I don't mind the new hangouts but I totally agree with your point on latitude and the hassle Google is lumping on its users with many of its updates.

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If Google means Hangouts to be an iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger competitor, they're going to have to do some serious updating, and fast.

The app updates slowly. So slowly that, when I am in a thread and go back to the thread list, the phone often shuffles them around as I press the next one I want to drill into - causing me to press the wrong one. It's very frustrating.

And don't even get me started on the iOS version I use on my iPad and my friends 'try' to use on their iPhone. It is such an epic fail (won't even update threads half the time after getting a notification) that my iFriends refuse to use it.

If they want mass adoption, gradual updates to perfection aren't going to cut it. It needs to be flawless, and it needs to be flawless yesterday.

ok latitude is moved to Google+ you are not missing any thing. It make more sense to move to G+ since its a social feature

I beg to differ. We ARE missing things. Functionally important things:

- No way to view friend locations on a desktop browser

- No indication of when location information was loaded (how "fresh" is the location info)?

- No way to navigate to friends

- No way to select WHO I want to see location info of. Friends and family, yes. Some random Google employee from the other side of the plant that I follow to stay up on news? Not interested.

Holler if I'm just not seeing it but the biggest missing thing is access to your custom MyMaps. Huge for me.

It's like you didn't even read my comment at all. I list two things that are missing, and as someone below you already commented, there are other features missing also.

It is okay that it got moved into Google+. I don't think it's ideal, but that move itself is not the end of the world. Removing functionality is a big deal. Just like online status indicators were removed from Hangouts, removing how fresh a location is makes the service less useful.

A very hard part of programming apps and creating services is to see outside of "How do I personally use it?" When something like this happens your first thought shouldn't be, "Well nobody ever used that," which by the way blanket statements like that are not helpful, but it should be, "How are people impacted by this change." You didn't make a blanket statement per se, but your statement of "you are not missing anything" tends towards that mindset.

I TOTALLY agree! The option to navigate to my contact(s) in Latitude was one of the best features! I SOOOO want Latitude to come back..... Google+ I can do without.

I can't believe there are still people who haven't figured out how to check online status on Hangouts.

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Not a helpful comment. Why don't you tell people how you do it instead of berating people for not figuring out how to do something that isn't documented?

From my experience the only way to tell if someone is online or not is in the New Hangouts area and see if they have a full color or washed out image. Is there a better way than that? It seems to me that I can not tell online/offline from the list of current Hangouts or any other way. And more than online/offline people are complaining about the available/idle status. For whenever messages people tend to use SMS. For now or just to talk people tend to use Chat and I don't think anyone wants to be talking to the abyss.

Is there a better way that we've all overlooked?

I honestly don't think they read the blogs and then decided to update it. I think they already had it ready to go but for those who wanted to explore the new maps and for those who like easter eggs (like google likes to hide) i think they left it like that for the release for that reason, but still kudos to google for killing it in their new design since the Holo theme release!

I think the same exact thing. This is Google we're talking about, guys. They were just playing around and thought their users would get a kick out of the easter egg. Also explains how they updated it so fast. It was planned.

the best free offline maps is (rmaps). first, you will need to download (mobile atlas creator version 1.8) on your pc, which allow you to download google maps of any where and any size. unlimited.
note: select map source (google maps). zoom level (17 is good for cities). atlas settings (format: RMaps SQLite). then create it.
then, insall (rmaps) on phone. copy paste the saved maps the (phone memory> rmaps> maps). then open rmaps>settings>user defined maps> select the maps.
it work great. i have all europe (google maps) saved on my phone. enjoy.

I want latitude back. My friends n family find g+ boring and not a lot peeps on it

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More people on it than any other social network other than Facebook. Even more than Twitter.

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Good for Google to fix/update offline functionality so quickly. I was getting concerned they were going to push it aside in this version.

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When i first saw the news saying "Google ditches location-sharing feature in map apps"...i got shocked but well they might have something good to offer for the google fans. Offline Maps great idea.

Are you new to Google? Gmail was in beta forever...nothing is ever finished at Google.

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when 500 million+ users use it there is some way to break it. No software is perfect even if someone develop it for a million years

Exactly. It looks to me that they really thought this one out. The interface is immaculate; the options are straight forward, and consistent with their other redesigns; the performance is much improved.
Had anyone else noticed that Maps isn't a persistent background process now? A decent amount of foreground memory has been freed by only using Google Play Services for background location reporting, instead of keeping two or three Maps services open, in addition to the two or three started by Google Play Services.
As far as latitude goes, they probably don't want to make it seem like they're forcing users to have their locations tracked if they want to use an "essential" system application like Maps. There is so much scrutiny around Google services and privacy, that the less they tie potentially "privacy-violating" services into common-use apps, the better off they'll be. Nobody is forced to *participate* in Google Plus, so if people are having their locations tracked, it's more likely that they wanted it to be there. Most everyone will end up using Maps, and many of them don't take time to understand the settings, so Google looks as if they are trying to gather everyone's location data on a massive scale.
Location tracking is a very sensitive issue for some, and I think Google would rather have the controversy of killing this service in it's current form, rather than the controversies that more Government investigations would bring upon them.

I noticed that too, that it's not longer a constant background process. This is exciting, more free memory is always a good thing!

Maybe they're planning on a separate app for latitude. Which I'm fine with, leave that battery draining stalkerware for the people who want it.

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The backlash as to much, especially on google plus... Just please add latitude or something close the Google plus location is weak alternative

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This is a very fast update. It shows their listening. Although taking out latitude is not that big if a deal I think it works better in a map program over going to the Google+ app. It's like going backwards I think. Especially when you are in a slow data area, Google maps will work but gplus is still loading. I guess we'll see what happens.

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I'm going to miss seeing how many points I can rack up every week using check in.

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So far the suggestions as you type seem to be more relevant to your current location. That was one of the most frustrating things about Google maps, I felt I had to type too much to get the suggestion I was looking for.

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What's the point of making the map available offline if you can't do anything once you go offline?

It is great when you are in a city you don't know and need to get around. It does not give you directions, but it does help finding your way

Some places you will not get good signal and if you are using the navigation it will stop because it cant download any data. If you download the map offline and go into an area where signal is bad and you have to use navigation it will still work. That has happened to me plenty of times in North Carolina

I have Sprint, so I'm often in remote areas with a poor data connection. With offline maps you can still navigate as long as you have a GPS signal.

Very true. It won't benefit subscribers on the carriers with good coverage outside of metro areas (Verizon & AT&T) as much as it does the carriers with poor coverage outside of those areas (Sprint & T-Mobile).

Pretty useless to me since I usually know where I am. What I need to see, is where I'm going.

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By caching the map tiles for your own city for example, it's faster even when you have a data connection. That way when you do a search, it can focus on the the text/resulting text, while the map sits native on your device. And panning and zooming will be instantaneous.

It's just much faster that way.

Does anyone know how to measure the distance between points? In the old version there was a measure tape icon. I hike a lot and that feature was often useful and quick.

So far there are things I like and dislike (why aren't your starred placed automatically shown on the map?). I will give it a try but I am very glad I saved the old .apk file just in case.

i can't seem to find the ability to get a scale and the + - zoom in/out tools back on the screen either. that made it easy to use one hand to zoom in and out, now what? pinch to zoom only and no scale?

To zoom with one finger, you tap, tap again in the same spot (hold on the second tap) then push up to zoom in, pull down to zoom out. Been this way for a while.

I've been trying these all night like a reTard and didn't work either lol
Anyone knows how to access Explore with them beautiful cards layout?

I think the only option at this point is to clear your cache entirely in settings>apps. I can't find any option to just delete one area that has cached.

I think it must only store the roads in some kind of vector format, so it would be resolution-independent in that case. I noticed that when I cache an area with few roads it downloads a LOT quicker than a more densely populated area, even if they are the same size geographically. I guess I didn't try it with satellite view enabled, though, maybe then it would cache the tiles which would depend on the zoom.

is there a way to sort results of a search? for example, restaurants - can i sort by rating, price, etc?

What version of Maps is this? I'm still on 6.14.4...still have view offline as a menu and "OK Maps" brings up Oklahoma...

I still can't get it, or the new chrome. I'm hoping to get it for my drive I have to make this afternoon.

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Just check "unknown sources" in settings/security. Search for google maps v7.0.1 apk. Download. Profit.

Lame... i don't even have the FIRST update on my N4... let alone the "Updated Update"..?!?!? WTH!?

I finally got the update this morning on my S3. Looks much better now, will test it as soon as I can.

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Aesthetically, it's much better and the 3d-ish is cool, but it certainly appears they've really neutured some of the **really cool** even if only rarely used features. I really only use it for Nav/directions/locations so I'm fine, but still...

Here is something scary (for those wearing who like to wear tin hats) - how accurate is the new Google maps? It correctly shows that 1' of the SE corner of my house was (incorrectly) built over my property line. Talk about a lot of data to produce this type of results!

So now along with all the other features that were taken away (with no superior alternatives) for the visual refresh (I loved button zoom - how else do I zoom with one finger?), Latitude is gone from the Maps app, all too soon. Not all of my friends have migrated to the Google+ way of location-sharing IN ONE DAY, and the damn app doesn't even load the map on my phone, and there's no way to view Google+ "Locations" on desktop.

I effectively have no way to find my friends on my phone now.
Latitude on desktop will exist for only another month.
Really, having friends as a Layer in Maps was a necessary tool. I don't care if it's Latitude or Google+, I just want to see friends in Maps.

To zoom with one finger, you tap, tap again in the same spot (hold on the second tap) then push up to zoom in, pull down to zoom out. Been this way for a while.

Thanks... had no idea about that feature. Personally I prefer the on screen buttons but better than pinch to zoom at least!

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Cheers, I didn't know this even existed and I already prefer it to the dreaded pinch/open finger gesture.

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I refuse to update.. I am going to wait until the last minute.. I use Latitude way too much.

I am on AT&T with an HTC One, Google Play says I have the latest version when I try to upgrade, but I am still on 6.14.4...

Is this update carrier specific?

lol.... added a where's a latitude button basically telling you it's gone. Bring back latitude. if you go to the Google+ app there's a way to review the Google+, tell em how we feel

As has been pointed out, still no My Map support. Which means I will not update to the new version. My Maps may not be essential for everyone, but it is essential to many people, including me.

When a company can provide an os like android but with service like Apple then Android is going to fall hard and fast.

I got the full Maps update of 7.0.1 on my N4 today. The two finger left - right swipe to bring up the menu doesn't work, but I do have the three line menu bar at the bottom left corner.

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I unfortunately did the update (to a Samsung Galaxy s4 - AT&T.) Horrible. The gps wouldn't lock, the interface is confusing, layers was removed, etc.

Removed the update and went back to the "old" version of Google Maps/Navigation.

My S3 updated with the supposed fix to the Maps update but I still don't have the "offline" button - how do i find it?

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Before the update, I could just turn on maps and drive without needing to set a destination. Basically, I like to just see where I am on the map to see what roads are coming up or whatever. Unless I'm just missing something, you can't do that now. Not sure why they would do away with this.
And someone tell them that most other devices/apps have had a speedometer for several years now.

Not sure what's causing it, but with the new maps, the area that I can make available for offline use is waayyy smaller than in the previous version.

The new version crashed on my Razar MAXX all the time. I not longer can access my address book from in Navigation to get an address. When I do get one to work I have to hit the START BUTTON and maybe it will work. I loved Google maps on my phones prior to this version. I travel to clients homes and if I have to spend five minutes for Maps to work that does not work for me. You use to select an address and it would got right into mapping the route and showing it, not hitting a stupid START Button!!! If this keep up i will have to go buy another Garmin GPS that works. This version is in a lot of ways a step backwards. The old version knew my location, I DID NOT HAVE TO SET IT EVERY TIME I RESTART NAVIGATION, ESPECIALLY AFTER IT CRASHES OR I GET A PHONE CALL AND IT DOES NOT GO BACK TO MAPS.

Please, please, please Google. Keep allowing us to UNINSTALL this new version of the maps app so we can keep the previous version which worked so well!!! I am so upset about the recent update. It is a major downgrade. And I use Google Maps nearly every day, often several times a day. The new version made things really difficult for me until I realized I could uninstall it. Unfortunately it kept auto updating but I have that turned off now. Let me list the features that were dropped from the new version that I feel are essential and make the new version a major downgrade of functionality...

1. Loss of ability to zoom in and out with buttons on the screen. This has basically eliminated the ability to use maps single handedly. Zooming in can still be done with a single thumb tap, but you are forced to use two hands to zoom out now with either a double finger tap or the clumsy reverse pinch method. Is there a reason Google does want us to be able to use maps with a single hand? Safety perhaps? I find it extremely annoying.

2. No more “Local” or “Places”. The replacement, “Explore” is next to useless. THIS IS PROBABLY MY BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH THE UPDATE! I used Local all the time. I frequently have meetings in different parts of the city and look up restaurants that are close, cheap and open. So the ability to search for what is closest, what fits a specific price range and what is open at the time I am looking for it is really important. Explore has none of this. Explore shows you what resturants Google apparently wants you to go to. It will list three or four restaurants that are a mile away from you before showing you the one down the block (if they show it at all). And their is no way to look for restaurants in a specific price range or that are open when you are looking for them (this is an issue late at night or early in the morning). So now I am stuck with being directed to the overpriced place that is much further away and just closed a half hour ago, instead of the cheap place that is still open down the block. I have to think that there must be some financial incentive for Google to direct you to certain places and strip away your ability to search on important criteria like price and hours of operation.

3. No more “my maps”. I create maps on Google all the time. I use it as part of my job. You can no longer access them on the new version.

4. Navigation no longer accessible as a stand alone app and less like a true GPS device for you car. No traffic map or indicator light. No easy way to look at alternate routes. No way to select for things like gas stations to be visible. Again, no zoom in or out buttons to allow for single handed use. Why would Google do this? Pressure from companies like Garmin etc.? Google was kicking their butts, since why would someone buy a GPS device for your car when your phone with Google maps worked just as good if not better. I wonder if Google was facing some heat from other companies or perhaps from those concerned about the safety of using navigation while driving and so decide to strip down and scale back the quality of their navigation capabilities. This is a real shame.

5. Various functions hidden away behind menus instead of easily accessible on the screen. In the previous version things like zooming in and out, accessing layers, going to navigation, local, getting directions, was all easily accessible with a single thumb tap from the main maps screen. No longer. Now you have to dig through menus for what functions that are left.

6. No longer integrated easily with your contacts addresses or with address in your calendar. For instance, you can no longer save a searched for address to your contacts.

7. Offline maps is hidden away but still there. But you can’t select as easily what area to save or know ahead of time how big the saved map will be.

They have removed other features too like Latitude and terrain maps, but I never used them so that does not effect me, but I imagine it is effecting others.

Google, why do this? Do you field test this stuff before releasing it? I got to think if you did the drawbacks of the downgrade would be obvious. Did you feel you were giving away too much functionality free in the past? Are you planning on charging down the road to return certain functions? I have heard that functionality was sacrificed for aesthetics and that people like the look of the new version better. PLEASE Google, don’t go the Apple route of aesthetics over functionality. Who cares what it looks like if you can’t do what you need to do with it. I would much rather have a car with a beat up body but a brand new engine than a car with a restored body but an engine that I can’t depend on to get me where I am going. Remember, Apple came to you when their maps turned out to be crap. Don’t become like them.

Are their other apps that restore some of the lost functionality? I really would not prefer not to go with another app, but if I can’t keep the previous version down the road, that maybe the only option I guess. Will we be able to use the previous version indefinitely as long as we don’t update? I sure hope so!

Very disappointed indeed with this new version. The previous version was superb, the new version is effectively unusable because the offline caching functionality has been so poorly implemented.
Previously, one could cache up to half a dozen large maps, one could easily see which areas had been cached (they were shown with neat outlines), and one could individually delete individual map caches. Now, so far as I can see, the map areas that can be cached are much smaller, there is no convenient way of determining which areas have been cached (apart from going offline and doing a detailed examination of the resolution at which detail is displayed), and there is no way of deleting an individual cached area. Further, I get the impression that the resolution at which the maps are cached has been downgraded: at high magnifications, the roads appeared to be fuzzily defined.
Given that only a (small?) minority of users will have a data plan (and good 3G signal coverage) suitable for using Maps in online mode, this latest version is, effectively, a total write-off. Please, please, Google, provide users with the option to reinstate the previous version.

I have cached maps offline, however, I am unable to search and use turn by turn navigation. When I hit on search bar it gives me "no connection" error. What is the use of such offline maps?