No Wi-Fi? No problem for Google Maps, which just introduced offline search

google maps speed limits food ordering iphone ios shutterstock 215587159
Tsyhun / Shutterstock.com
You’re never “conveniently lost.” Or at least, I’m never conveniently lost. Anytime I find myself completely unsure of my whereabouts, I also find that I’m without a map, without a friend, or worst of all, without Wi-Fi or 4G/LTE service, rendering even my trusty Google Maps app useless. But now, for the directionally challenged, none of that matters anymore. Google just introduced offline navigation and search, and it may be the best thing since sliced bread.

“Roughly 60 percent of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty,” Google notes in its official blog. So in an effort to introduce a solution, “Now you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there’s no connectivity — whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage — Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly,” writes Amanda Bishop, a Google product manager.

While you’ve been able to save portions of Google Maps since 2012, the tech giant has never before indexed these results for search and navigation. But as of today, that’s all changed — “now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings.”

To take advantage of this new functionality, you’ll need to download part of a map by searching for a city, county, or even country, says Google. Then, you can hit “Download,” or tap the “+” button in the “Offline Area” tab of Google Maps. Once you have your map handy, Bishop writes, “Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all.” Pretty snazzy.

But don’t worry — if you do have service available, Google Maps will revert to its full version, so you can actually see things like live traffic conditions, transit, and walking conditions (which may also soon be available in offline mode).

Of course, despite the great convenience that this new feature may offer, some critics have pointed out that the huge amount of data needed to both download and store large maps may offset whatever benefits offline mode offers. “Entry-level Android smartphones sometimes only have four gigabytes of onboard storage, making it a precious resource,” Ben Wood from CCS Insight told the BBC. “So some users may find using map downloads limits what else they can do with their device — but to be honest that’s one small negative in a sea of positives about this update.”

Google is optimistic about how offline mode will enhance their users’ ability to navigate unfamiliar place. “We think it’ll dramatically improve your experience,” Bishop told TechCrunch. And for those who’ve tried out the service, they’re certainly in agreement.

Cars

Waze now tells you the cost of toll roads along your route

Navigation app Waze now tells you how much you'll be paying for toll roads, should you decide to take them. Enter your route and the app will display the various tolls you'll be paying on that particular trip.
Smart Home

Amazon cuts prices on Google Wi-Fi mesh network router for Prime Day

Amazon cut prices on Google Wi-Fi mesh wireless network devices for Prime Day 2019. Google Wi-Fi systems mesh network routers are expandable. If you use a conventional router and want faster Wi-Fi, these deals can help you save.
Mobile

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.
Home Theater

Get the most out of your Chromecast with these handy tips

Google's Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra are the ultimate budget-friendly streaming devices for cord cutters. We've put together a list of our favorite tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Chromecast.
Home Theater

What is Android TV? Google’s smart TV software fully explained

Google's Android TV might not be a household name yet, but with growing support from brands like Sony, it will be soon. But what exactly is Android TV, how do you get it, and what are the benefits? We explain it all.
Mobile

The 10 best keyboards for the iPhone, from Gboard to Bitmoji

Apple first allowed third-party keyboard integration with iOS 8, and now there are scores of alternative keyboards on the market. Here's a rundown of the best keyboards for the iPhone, from SwiftKey to Fleksy.
Mobile

Nomad's new Kevlar-reinforced cable range is now available for purchase

Nomad has just released an update to its super-tough Kevlar range of cables to include a new USB-C to Lightning cable and a blisteringly fast 100W USB-C cable. They're expensive, but they're the toughest cables you'll find.
Deals

Amazon knocks 29% off the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones for Prime Day

Looking to get your hands on a premium Google Pixel phone? Now’s your chance to score amazing deals on Pixel devices. For Prime Day, Amazon is offering the Pixel 3 (128GB) and the Pixel 3 XL (64GB) for just $639 each.
Mobile

Xfinity Mobile customers can now bring their own Android device to the carrier

Xfinity Mobile, a mobile carrier for Xfinity internet customers, is adding the Samsung Galaxy S9, S9 Plus, S8, S8 Plus, Note 9 and Note 8 to its BYOD program. Customers porting a number on a new line are eligible for a $100 Visa card.
Deals

The best Prime Day smartphone deals: Samsung, Motorola, Google, and more

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is here, and there are a ton of great deals on smartphones worth looking into. Whether you're looking for a new iPhone or an Android device, there should be a Prime Day 2019 deal for you.
Deals

Apple Watch Series 4 smartwatch now just $360 in Amazon Prime Day deal

Amazon Prime Day is a fine time to buy a new smartwatch. The Apple Watch Series 4 is the cream of the smartwatch crop, and now in an Amazon Prime Day deal, the 44mm model can be yours for just $354, down from its original $429.
Deals

The futuristic Samsung Galaxy S10 5G just got a price cut on Best Buy

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is finally here, bringing with it some of the best smartphone deals you're likely to see all year. In particular, there are some amazing deals on Samsung Galaxy phones, including the much-loved Samsung Galaxy S10.
Apple

Missed out on Amazon’s Prime Day Apple Watch deal? Walmart has you covered

Amazon's deal on the Apple Watch was pretty good, but it sold out within the first 24 hours of Prime Day. As an alternative, we'd suggest you shop Walmart, which has the Apple Watch Series 3 available for $80 off its normal price.
Mobile

Having issues with iOS 12? These fixes will help you get back on track

Apple's iOS 12 has a lot going for it, but it's not perfect and several issues have cropped to annoy people. Here are some of the most common iOS 12 problems we've heard about, with some advice on how to fix them or work around them.