Google Maps updated with offline caching

Following up on the Maps announcement a few weeks ago, Google has released the long-awaited update for Android which will enable offline caching. That means you'll be able to keep navigating when you're outside of data coverage for whatever reason. Over 150 countries are supported, and you can store up to six large metropolitan areas (like New York, London, or Paris) using the new menu option. Bundled with this update are a few performance optimizations for compass mode in Street View.

Offline caching in Google Maps is going to be particularly awesome for frequent travelers that don't want to get nailed with harsh roaming fees and can't get their hands on a local SIM card. It also makes Wi-Fi-only Android devices viable for navigation, which was never much of an option before.

If you've got an Android device running 3.0 or higher, you can get the update over in the Google Play store (opens in new tab). Three are also a bunch of other core apps that were updated for Jelly Bean compatibility. 

Source: Google Lat-Long

Simon Sage
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  • I didn't think of it at first, but it would be really cool to use your phone as a GPS for hiking. I think this is an amazing feature to have in maps and extremely useful to travelers
  • There are specific apps available for this that pull in USGS topo maps, provide tracking, etc. I'm planning to do exactly that on a 7 day trip I'm taking next fall. I haven't finished testing battery consumption or all the features of the apps I'm trying, but so far it's pretty encouraging. Take a look at GPS Essentials as well as Backpacker GPS as some possibilities. You could also simply download the PDF topos from the USGS map store (Google for USGS Map Locator) and view the pdfs on your phone if you prefer.
  • Increased map caching for offline mapping but not offline navigation..
  • Increased map caching for offline mapping but not offline navigation..
  • OMG yay! But will the cache "expire" like it did with that stupid "labs" version of so-called caching?
  • I have been playing with the update and just wanted to confirm what I found. I am able to scroll around the map, but search and directions are not available unless you have data. Is this the intended behavior? It would seem to make the functionality alot less usable.
  • This was already available in labs but this is definitely an improvement. kukal, I believe that is correct since it requires a connection to download directions from the server.
  • The stupid stuff in "labs" would "expire" in 30 days or something, making it pretty useless.
  • Well, it took them long enough, people have been asking for this since Froyo, or maybe earlier. But, all you get is a paper map with this Offline Maps thing? At least a paper map won't run out of juice. Well, I guess having a Here You Are dot is a bit better than a paper map, since GPS is still working. I really thought you could at least search for directions to locations withing the cached area. I guess we can start complaining to Google now, and maybe my (whatever M is), we'll get a more functional Offline Maps.
  • Quote from article: "Offline caching in Google Maps is going to be particularly awesome for frequent travelers that don't want to get nailed with harsh roaming fees and can't get their hands on a local SIM card" For that purpose, this new offline feature is USELESS. Even if you make the entire city of Paris available offline, you CANNOT search for
    addresses or POIs. All you can do is zoom in/out and scroll around the map.
    A paper map may be more useful this way. If you intend to use it as a car GPS,
    you'll stillo have to pony up and pay for int'l roaming data or a local SIM card.
  • I don't think it is useless for many purposes. But it would be even better if you could at least search for road names. Not sure if street numbers are in the offline data, but if yes, search for an address would be great. I did notice when it is offline, most of the "place" names are gone (as expected), but some remain, so those should be searchable too. Let's cross our fingers this is the first real step to even more "offline" goodness.
  • I think it's pretty hilarious how Google adds more features to an app that's already great (and free, mind you), and still people can find a way to complain about it. Piss off. You have no place to criticize unless you can do better. Constructive criticism is one thing, but all you're doing is whining like a child. I'm very pleased with Google's update. For all the times I get directions and then lose service half way through my route, this update will be the remedy.
  • If this is just a dl for maps and does not integrate with nav. Then it's a useless function. Most of the time I will know where I want to go and use Nav to get there. Would be great to DL the whole US like I did on my old Navigon. 2GB sd card and the country was there. No need to DL the maps on the fly. This ATM is just half baked.
  • So many haters! Yeah I get it you cant find a Starbucks from a cached map but at least it can get you back on the highway. Best I figure, you can cache 75x75 miles (just short of 80MB), thats a lot of address's Starbucks and McDonalds to log. Its not a surprise you dont get those data intensive features while offline.
  • I know, this update is awesome! Why do people always point out the negatives when there are so many positives?? I wish people would always think before they speak. It'd save a lot of them from looking like complete morons. I can only imagine how much data it'd cost to cache every address for every location in a city...
  • the more important question is, does it say street names in turn-by-turn directions or still not?
  • Good Question.
    Will this be useful on 7" tablets that have a GPS, but no SIM card?
  • I have a Dell Streak 7 WiFi, but it's having trouble downloading the maps whereas my Galaxy Nexus did just fine, albeit really slowly (understandable since the servers are probably being pounded.) So I just tried offline *navigation* on the Galaxy Nexus. In short, you can't. While the data is there for *viewing* the maps, apparently the data needed to route isn't. (Not sure if its the address data, etc., plus how can it route if part of it goes off the cached area?) Still, to try this absolutely for sure, I downloaded a 75MB file that covered all of NYC and most of northern NJ with my house in the center of it with a 30+ perimeter of cached data around me. I then asked it to navigate to a place right down the street from my house (three miles away with only two turns) and the screen just hung on 'Getting Directions' (hung as in didn't get past, not as in hung the device.) So no nav offline, which of course means no voice to read street names, basically making this entire thing useless. Sure you can see where you are on the map, but how many people actually do that? You can't even search for an address! Might as well have paper with you. At least then you can see more at once (most maps are bigger than 7" after all) and you'd be saving battery life too. Simply put, COMPLETE FAIL, Google! You got me excited to use my Streak as a nav unit for nothing (...let alone that Honeycomb on the streak apparently can't download map data anyway! Keeps saying 'failed' so my comment was both metaphorical *and* literal.) Such promise wasted.
  • So this isn't available for the Nexus One? That sucks. I'm thinking of moving away from Android. Too many Google apps seem to need permissions that I don't think they have any business needing. Of course, I'm sure iOS is just as bad, but they don't even tell you. And I can't imagine MS not trying to get all the info about you they can. Maybe I should go back to a dumb phone.
  • The factory navigation in my Lexus is DVD-based. One dual-layer(8GB) DVD takes
    care of the entire USA and Canada. Since everything is on that one 8GB DVD, I can't understand why Google can't just
    let us download everything to our phones. Oh... wait, I forgot... Google's plan
    is to eliminate SD card slots in future smartphones and tablets. (as clearly
    evidenced on my Galaxy Nexus, and the new Nexus 7 tablet.... neither one has
    enough memory for 8GB of nav data... can be easily solved if they just include
    the SD slot. I'd gladly pay $50 to Google just so I can have total offline
    navigation capability on my smartphone)
  • Anyone else find that they lose all "offline" maps they have cached if they reboot the phone?
  • Come on People. There have been offline apps for Android for at least a few years now. One of the Best is ALK's Co-Pilot Live which even offers a free version for the US right now. Edit: they do have Europe on this free version. CO-PILOT GPS is the app name.