Google Maps Breakthrough: Search And Navigation Without A Connection

Offline maps

Google continues to add features and capabilities that keep its maps that much ahead of the competition. Coming out of I/O yesterday Google made a major announcement: Google Maps search and voice guided, turn-by-turn navigation will be available offline.

This is intended for anyone without a data connection or with a weak or inconsistent one. So it will be great for travelers who don’t want to pay international data charges or don’t want to get a local SIM card. But more importantly it’s for developing markets and places in the world where data connections are unreliable.

Offline turn by turn directions will rely on GPS. And while there have previously been offline digital maps, including a modest prior effort by Google and a more extensive one by Nokia, this is a breakthrough. That’s partly because of its scope and the fact that it doesn’t require the user to download the map or a section of the map onto the phone.

Google said during the keynote that offline maps will be available “later this year.” The company also told me this morning in email that the offline functionality will equally be coming to Google Maps for iOS.

Below is the full keynote video from yesterday. The discussion of offline Google Maps functionality starts at 2:11:47.

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