If an upcoming wilderness trek or urban adventure could place you in a location where a data signal may not be available, a little advance planning–along with the latest version of Google Maps–may help you find your way. A recent update (for Android 2.2 and up) includes a feature which offers the ability to download maps into a mobile device. These maps (up to a 10 mile radius) can then be viewed without a data signal. Also, with GPS enabled, your location and orientation will be displayed (orientation is available if your device is equipped with a compass). However, a data connection will still be necessary for a satellite view, or to get directions.
To begin, launch Google Maps, tap the menu button, and select Make available offline from the menu.
If the selected area is too large, it will be bordered in red, with a request to zoom in closer.
Depending on how much territory is selected, the offline map files can be pretty large (the one below is 83 MB), so be sure that plenty of space is available, and data use can be conserved if they’re downloaded through Wi-Fi.
To find a previously generated map, open the Maps menu and choose My Places.
Tap Offline at the top of the screen to display the list. To delete a map, just tap the arrow to the right of the name and select Delete. Maps will be removed from the cache after 30 days, but can be reloaded at any time.
To find saved maps if you’re already offline, tap the menu button and choose Show offline list from the menu.
Google offline maps may not guarantee that you won’t get lost, but they offer another reason not to stop and ask directions.
The latest version of Google Maps can be found here.