Google Maps offline navigation goes live

Posted by Alex Zaah filed under Google Earth

Finally, Google adds offline navigation to Google Maps – a long-waited feature, yet a nightmare to navigation companies becomes reality.

The newly released Google Maps 5.7 for Android now allows users to download maps to local storage for offline navigation. Although this version only let people download maps about an area of 10 miles around specific location, but it’s an important step forward toward full map download.

Once you install Google Maps 5.7 in your Android Smartphone, tap more options on the menu bar, and download map area is there under labs page, just enable it. Then you only have to tap download map data for this location to store it to your cell phone for offline use after highlighting the name of the location you want. You can also choose to rename or delete the maps downloaded by entering cache settings.

At the moment there are more than a few navigation companies out there providing various offline maps for convenient uses. You can download their maps to your cell phone storage and install their navigation app, now you are ready to navigate around. But Google Maps in the past won’t let you store the map data, every time you run Google Maps, it connects to Google server to download and cache the map data. If you are in an area with no internet access, you won’t be able to use Google Maps. Moreover, internet access could drain your battery quickly. If you are on a long trip, you need to take extra cell phone batteries with you to avoid getting lost.

This February we drove from city A to B with a distance of 157km using my cell phone as navigator. It actually took us 15 hours to get to city B at midnight and four batteries (1500mhA) went dead. I then was using Garmin and downloaded all the maps to my handset; we may never make it to our destination if we used Google Maps as we have never have been there before.

Google has already collected a huge load of map data for its mapping service. It also has a huge database of Geo data for its location based service like Google Latitude. These make Google’s mapping service the best option for navigation. So it’s absolutely necessary for Google to include offline map in Google Maps.

At the beginning of June, a Germany telecom insider was cited as saying Google Maps will soon add full maps offline navigation capability. Although Google only adds limited area maps download in this update, it’s an increasing threat to traditional navigation companies.

Copyright © 2009 Profone Tracking by Alex Zaah. All Rights Reserved.