Google has added the option to access Google Maps offline via Android OS devices, available via “download map area,” an experimental feature provided by Google Labs. “You’ll never need to carry a paper map again,” the company claims via its official blog.
Using Android 2.1 OS gadgets including smartphones and tablet PCs and the latest version of Google Maps, you can download maps with a 10-mile radius via WiFi or wireless broadband connection. Once retrieved, maps can be pulled up and browsed without an Internet connection, unlike in previous editions.
Initial downloads, which can process in as little as a couple minutes, provide base map tiles and overviews of major landmarks. An active data view will still be necessary to retrieve satellite views, 3D buildings or search for places and directions, although the added offline details provided should proven a boon to befuddled tourists.
“You can open up any Places page in the world, click “More” to get the Place page menu and download Google’s maps,” says director of product management Chikai Ohazama. “All your downloaded map areas can be managed in your Google Maps cache settings so you can delete maps you no longer need. After 30 days, all downloaded map areas will be removed from your cache; they can be re-downloaded any time. We hope the level of detail available will help you find your way.”
How the feature fits with Google’s vision of constant connectivity, as exemplified by the online focused Chrome operating system and supporting Chromebook devices, presently remains unclear.