Usefulness of offline maps
Google Maps offers a lot of useful information to drivers. It can tell you how to get where you are going (obviously), traffic along various routes, construction and accidents along the roadways, and even if you will get to your destination before it closes.
However, none of this is worth while if you don’t have any data to use it with. You can’t get directions if you have used up all your data, your carrier has throttled your data, or you are on Project Fi and using data to get directions is too expensive.
Have no fear, you can actually download Google Map data onto your device for offline usage. You lose some functionality, you will only be able to pan through it, but it is better than nothing when you have no idea where you are going!
Limitations of offline maps
With a downloaded map and no data connection, no step by step directions will be availability, or any other Google Maps feature for that matter. You will have to use the map like a regular folding map you picked up at a travel center.
The good news though is that you will be able to do this in the future as announced at I/O, a full offline experience is coming soon.
Downloading maps for offline use
Downloading the map itself is actually really easy. There are about four really simple steps.
Save a new offline map
First step is to tap on the search bar up on top. After that, you are going to want to select the bottom option/card, whatever you want to call it. It should read “Save a new offline map”.
Select an area
After you do that, you will be able to pan though the map in order to select the area you want to download. You are limited to a rather small area, but you can save more than one area. You can’t get anywhere near an entire state, but you can get a decent sized city in one go.
Well the next two steps are rather self explanatory. You slap the save button once you get your map all lined up, and Google Maps will save everything that is in view. Nothing more, nothing less.
Name your child
After all that is said and done, you get to name your child (map) and keep it for 30 days. After 30 days, Google mandates that your saved map will be deleted and you will have to save it all over again.
As you can see though, it isn’t that hard to save a map for offline use and doing it once a month shouldn’t be that bad if you need it often enough. If you don’t need it for daily use, and just a trip here and there, you should be fine. Plus, at the end of it, you won’t even have to remember to delete your map since it will be deleted for you!