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July 6, 2011

Offline Maps and Transit Navigation in Google Maps for Android

The Google Maps app is a good reason to buy an Android phone. No other Google Maps version offers 3D maps, free turn-by-turn navigation, voice-guided navigation for walking directions or offline caching. No other Google Maps app is updated so frequently with cool features.

For instance, Google Maps 5.7 for Android combined Google Maps Navigation with transit directions and introduced an innovative feature called Transit Navigation. "Now, GPS turn-by-turn (or in this case, stop-by-stop) navigation is available for public transit directions in 400+ cities around the globe with Transit Navigation. Transit Navigation uses GPS to determine your current location along your route and alerts you when it's time to get off or make a transfer. This is particularly helpful if you're in a city where you don't speak the language and can't read the route maps or understand the announcements."

It's a really useful feature and the coverage is continually expanding. I suspect that Google Maps will find other clever ways to use notifications: location-based reminders, recommendation alerts ("notify me when I'm near an Italian restaurant"), social alerts ("notify me when I'm near a restaurant recommended by my friends").


Google Maps for Android also added a navigation icon next to the driving and walking directions, a photo viewer for Google Places pages and icons that categorize search suggestions.

Probably the most useful new feature is buried inside Google Maps Labs: on-demand maps caching. Tap the "menu" button, select "More" and then "Labs". Enable "download map area", long press on the map around the area you want save, tap on the bubble and select "Download map area". Google Maps will download the map area within 10 miles (16.09 kilometers) of the selected location and outline it. This feature only saves map tiles, so you won't be able to see satellite imagery, Street View images or get driving directions while offline.

The 10 miles limit can't be changed, but at least you can manage your downloaded maps. Use the "Cache settings" option from the menu and select "Downloaded map areas". You can rename map areas, delete them and quickly visualize them.

20 comments:

  1. Could someone upload the apk somewhere perdy please :)

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  2. note that with the new Android app update, Latitude sends check-in updates to Google+ and not Buzz.

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  3. Market is saying "Improved battery power management for Navigation (Beta)"

    Anyone know what this entails?

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  4. I'd love to be able to cache the satellite pic as well as or instead of the map - for hiking for example.

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  5. When will Google start Navigation service in India :(

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  6. No option "download map area" at labs with 5.7. What is the reason?

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  7. I have the same problem as Anonymous - only two options in the Labs list: "Measure" and "Scale Bar" - no "Download map" :-(

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  8. Still no offline maps in AndroidJuly 7, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    Offline maps? No, sorry but offline caching is not the same as offline maps, this is what keeps me holding on to my Nokia with free offline maps, including satellite maps! When it comes to offline maps you folks at Google are underachievers.

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  9. Offline maps needs to be enabled under Labs in Maps 5.7.

    Maps has been automatically caching map areas that have been viewed since last year. I have 91mb of cached maps and these seem to have a long life (months). So despite the hype I'm not sure this new feature will add much; perhaps some extra certainty that the map area will be available because it has been manually stored..

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  10. I don't see the labs feature either. I read on a few other websites that other users with a Wildfire are experiencing the same issues. So I think this labs feature is not supported on a Wildfire? :-(

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  11. Yeah, sticking to nokia as well until there's a free real offline navigation solution for android.

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  12. Check out Map Droyd for free off-line maps

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  13. Download map area option shows in the labs but its for the gingerbread only I suppose.it shows on my desire hd as well as on Motorola milestone but my girlfriend's wildfire with froyo doesn't seem to have it even after she installed version 5.7

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  14. it just made so much sense to have offline access to map data...it should have been here sooner. when abroad i often need maps and the data costs a fortune.

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  15. hey m8. so this means that its a full gps navigation system, without using gsm network for nav?
    kudos

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  16. google maps is still way behind when it comes to maps. Ovi maps are leading here and navigation users are still holding their nokias for it has real offline maps and free navigation. If google maps will be as advanced as ovi it will sure kill nokia. For me google maps is just another dedicated browser for google maps.

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  17. How can i implement Feature Like “Precache Map Area” as like Google Map??

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  18. You can't this isn't true "offline" navigation.

    Go buy a Nokia Windows Phone if you want that.

    You can't "start" a trip unless your online... This is horrible

    30 days are max on the maps, then they self destruct... You better be ready for that because they don't inform you.

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  19. for offline navigation..there is overland ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.simvex.overland.free ) , that also caches up the data from google maps , and keeps them in your device forever. It also downloads waypoints directly -with no need for cables , etc - from a huge waypoints database. IMHO it is too much oriented for expeditions and explorations than for normal travelling , but I still find it more convenient. The geolocalized news system is also pretty cool and entertaining !.

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  20. Congratulations! This is the best thing, Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.
    Location Solutions

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