09
May
unnamed

For those who may not know, Google Maps has an offline feature. It's not all that useful (it doesn't allow saved locations to be searched nor does it provide directions/navigation - it's essentially a paper map on a small screen), but it's still a thing that may be useful to someone at some point. Assuming you think ahead and actually save a map of the location in which you may need for it to be offline, of course.

With the recent redesign and release of Maps 8.0, Google changed the way offline maps are saved, as well as how they're managed once available for offline use. In the old days (which was like last week), a map was saved directly from the search bar, like so:

Screenshot_2014-05-09-09-57-50 Screenshot_2014-05-09-09-58-03 Screenshot_2014-05-09-09-58-14

Once the map was available offline, well, that was it. It was there. There were no management options (those were removed back with Maps' first major redesign), nor was there a way to remove said map. With Maps 8.0, Google is doing things differently, even if only slightly.

Now, offline maps are saved by hitting the user icon (the one beside the search bar) and scrolling to the bottom. You'll also find that there is a little bit more management available now, though it's nothing like it was back in the Maps 6 days.

Screenshot_2014-05-09-10-39-19 Screenshot_2014-05-09-10-39-11 Screenshot_2014-05-09-10-39-56 maps Screenshot_2014-05-09-10-15-24

Aside from adding the ability to access saved maps directly and give them unique names, there's now a 30-day expiration period for saved maps. Once that time is up, the map data will require the user to update it by re-downloading. Unfortunately, once the map has expired, Maps tries to force an update (regardless of whether the device is online or not) and won't allow access to the outdated data in the case of a connection-less device. This could be problematic, as some people may find themselves lost in unfamiliar territory with no connection and no map. Thus, if you use offline maps often, be aware of the expiration date to ensure the map data is always available.

Thanks, Debadatta Bose!

Google Maps Support

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • remister

    If only it had a way to save my road trip that I want to do.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Exactly. I can't believe that there's still no way to save an entire route.

      • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

        And a way for the system to suggest alternate routes from the offline map :/

        • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

          There are other (free) apps that can do this. Download entire state maps, voice navigation, offline navigation and route recalculation. Why can't Google figure this out?

          • Guest123

            IMHO, google doesn't want you using their stuff "offline" as they can't track you and feed you "relevant" ads as per your current location, etc. . . google isn't about giving you a good service, they are about getting your info, serving up ads and making money off you, thus there is no benefit to them to have a great GPS offline navigation app.

            Thus I have two fully offline GPS based navigation apps instead of gMaps.

          • http://www.google.com/profiles/moneta.mace Mace Moneta

            Other mapping apps can handle caching ads and storing tracks, then refreshing the information when next connected. Google loses nothing by allowing offline use.

  • Stranger from a Far Coast

    Anyone from Malaysia has problem saving map for offline use?

  • Jorge Rhor

    Any good alternative to this bullcrap of Google Maps?

    • Calvin Uijlen

      It is certainly no bullcrap, but it's sad that it doesn't work fully offline.

      • Jorge Rhor

        No bullcrap... yeah... until you are on the country side, no cell coverage, and you need to put gas on your car and when you open Maps, it tells you need to actualize your perfectly good and functional cached version from 30 days ago.... and that's why I'm asking, any good alternatives?, doesnt matter if its a paid app.

        • Desislav Iliev

          Paper maps

        • reverend_house

          Yes, Locus. It's truly brilliant.

          • http://dennisbareis.com/ Dennis Bareis

            Just had a look at that app and it does look very good, downloading now :-)

        • Ismail

          Sygic my friend is the best on android

      • Barnassey

        What are you talking about? I have a nokia 928 that i downloaded all of the us maps and it works just fine offline with no sim.

    • remister

      Nokia Maps on a Nokia phone :)

      • Calvin Uijlen

        But then your OS is shit (WP is shit).

        • Luis

          You can get it in the new Nokia X, which is Android, and WP8.1 rocks.

    • james kendall

      The best alternative is OSMand

      • Guest123

        Could never get OSMand to work properly on my LG OGP.

    • Guest123

      For GPS offline maps I like:

      skobbler GmbH $1: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.skobbler.forevermapng

      and

      Navfree: Free GPS Navigation FREE: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.navfree.android.OSM.ALL

      I'm in the Western US and have found Skobbler to be the most accurate at getting me to the exact spot however, it's search isn't the easiest. Neither are as easy to use as gMaps, but the offline convenience is a must when traveling out of major metropolitan areas. Furthermore, they don't require google location services or constant nagging about it, nor do they eat your battery when not in use. Otherwise I use Waze or Mapquest for online maps.

  • Stylus_XL

    Strap yourselves in for the incoming nerd rage.

    • http://dennisbareis.com/ Dennis Bareis

      Only nerds need maps offline? Or others can't read them anyway?

  • moelsen8

    seems irresponsible to not allow the user to use cached data after 30 days. wouldn't a nagging warning to update suffice?

    • Mark

      It's Google's data, they can do whatever they want. What's irresponsible is your assumption that it's YOUR map data.

      • moelsen8

        nope, didn't say that. try again.

      • fabulosospucas

        WTF?

        • SlutMagnet

          ROFLLMAO

      • Marcelove

        Are u eating sh1t?

    • Guest123

      Just download one of the many offline GPS based navigation apps. . . and you will have the maps always available for as long as you want.

    • Whyzor

      It's starting to look like a lot of Google engineers (living in Silicon Valley) with good broadband, don't imagine what it's like for the average user outside of that specific area.

    • Gregory

      Well, I think this could be hacked really easily.
      1. Set the time on your device to, say, year ahead
      2. Save maps
      3. Set the time to the correct one. Now your maps will expire in one year and 30 days.
      I didn't test this but probably that's going to work.

      • SHeadius

        Unless you're not rooted.

        • Gregory

          You don't have to be rooted to change the system time.

          • SHeadius

            I always have. Sprint and T-Mobile.

          • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

            I have a nexus and I can set date and time w/o root.

    • MattVRX

      Just feel like pointing out you can still run the old, VASTLY superior version of google maps.
      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2485892

      Works perfectly offline with no restrictions. It's also faster, has a better UI and takes up 15mb instead of 20mb.

      • Mike Harris

        I downloaded it and my VZW Note 3 won't let me install it for some reason. It just says "X Application not installed." I've never had a problem sideloading apps.

  • Steve Williamson

    I always see these features as basically a better version of a paper map. Always offline maps of holiday locations with the hotel,airport and other places of intrest Starred. Then mixed with GPS it means I always know the direct and rough distance from my location im trying to get to.

    and recently with free wifi in hotels/bars means I can always do a bit more searching when out and about planning the day ahead!

    • Dogeball

      Except a paper map is still useable after 30 days...

    • http://dennisbareis.com/ Dennis Bareis

      I've still got a paper map that is still useful (enough) after 30 years.

  • kentholio

    Yeah, I never really saw the point if I couldnt navigate with the offline map.

  • Ismail

    Offline Maps doesn't mean offline navigation which is the most important thing

    To hell with Google Maps , I'm using Sygic With TomTom Maps

  • BoFiS

    WTF, this is stupid. I'm still using Maps 6 under Kit Kat without issue, and my cached maps last forever, which is nice. Also I can view alternate routes while STILL NAVIGATING without exiting out of voice prompts first and have zoom in/out buttons that are far easier to use with one hand/finger. It's frustrating that they broke my favorite product and two versions later have still not brought it up to the level it was at in Version 6!

    • james kendall

      I have never and probably never will go any higher then version 6.x. v6 was the best build of maps before they said lets fuck with what works and give users shit.

    • hot_spare

      6.14.4 is still the best IMO.

    • Guest123

      You have pretty much summed up google's recent behavior toward their services and apps.

    • Ankit

      You can zoom in and out quite easily in the newer versions too..
      Tap twice quickly, and don't let go after the 2nd tap.Slide your finger up/down to zoom out/in

    • moelsen8

      God how I miss the zoom buttons.

      • peatcoal

        As you quite rightly pointed out, if you're driving you shouldn't be touching the screen at all.

        • bob

          Right, thats why automakers add more and more cabin buttons, touch screens and gadgets. Touching your GPS or phone is illegal, but having a smoke, adjusting your mirror or changing a radio station is perfectly safe ....????
          /sar

  • EH101

    This is a pretty ridiculous limitation. Just make the offline maps auto update every time the device connects to wifi. Only takes a few moments anyway.

    • J_Pod

      I sent that exact suggestion in the feedback to Google in the maps app. I hope everyone else does too, hopefully get it through someone's head over there at Google.

  • Benni Bennetsen

    I didn't know directions/navigation didn't work offline, when does the crappy app tell me that ?? It is so hopelessly hidden to save offline, but without directions I doin't even get why the option is there, just remove it when it is not usable.. spending so much time to zoom and save maps and it don't rly work.... great !

    • peatcoal

      Just because you can't see a use case for it doesn't mean that it isn't used daily by millions of people. I personally find it super useful for finding places which I've starred when I don't have a data connection, especially when I'm on foot.

  • abobobilly

    This is one thing i wholeheartedly hate from Google, its Maps on Android. I have had it and would not resist saying FUCK YOU GOOGLE AND SHOVE YOUR MAPS UP YOUR BEHIND and move on.

    Seriously, its like they are deliberately ruining it for everyone piece by piece. Its 2014 and we still can't save offline maps (expiration is ridiculous). Heck can't even do offline search, for an area which is saved in our offline map (or pre-cached area). Navigation for users without internet is practically nonexistent, and if you are in an area without internet connectivity, you are screwed (I have been in such scenarios, at 2:AM, in the middle of nowhere, on a fucking bike, feeling ... lonely, and angry as fuck).

    I have been using Sygic solely because Google maps despite being very detailed and best in business, TOTALLY FAIL to provide an experience i want. To hell with your maps Google. Sygic is now my love (as it always have been since a few years now)

  • John Smith

    Might as well plan ahead another way:

    Whilst you're at home, take screenshots of the maps you'll be gold digging at and mark them up with a graphics application, then save the images to your phone...

    Result: the images never expire and they're nicely marked up.

  • http://bit.ly/breathlesstao Breathless

    Meanwhile, a more pressing issue: the feature is still not available everywhere. Thought I wouldn't have to see that idiocy from the ancient beta days, but apparently it persists.

  • mgfjd12

    I don't know what's the big deal with the offline maps.... I have to travel a lot because of my job and the offline has been working just fine. there are real stuff missing since google move to maps 7.0

  • rap

    Why have an expiration at all? I can see prompting you to update but not blocking the old ones. Mine would always expire in the middle of trip.

    • http://dennisbareis.com/ Dennis Bareis

      Its not like major roads move monthly. I would like it to have a WI-FI only update option and hopefully do incremental updates and not a big bang when no update required or needing to update every cached map.

  • me

    Don't care. Using 6.14 ever since this garbage released.

  • Matthew Fry

    What a mess. No warnings when the maps are saved, no way to disable, no way to use it anyway. This is definitely a case of dogfooding in a connection rich area. Prepare for lost world travelers.

    I understand their intent. Maps data updates continuously and they want you to have the most up to date info. However, the very fact that you are saving the maps offline suggests that you may not have data where you're going. If your trip is longer than a month or you prepare ahead of time, you're completely screwed.

    • peatcoal

      That's not necessarily their intent. Google is a company that sells data.

      To be honest, for anyone who is going to be doing some hardcore travelling which relies solely on Google Maps with no plan B deserves to get lost. There are apps which allow tracks and have more suitable map styles for things like thay, etc, and of course they should take a paper map as a backup.

  • Your Mother

    every time Google "updates" the maps the make it worse. now there are no more labs so the measure tool is gone.

    • TheLastAngel

      And the elevation profile...

      Both were such useful and obvious features.

      Now let's shove more useless and dated recommendations into the app!

      • MikeOxlong

        Both utilities are still available in version 6.
        Running buttery smooth (unlike the new crap) on my nexus 5.

  • Tim Cook

    No such problems with Apple maps,I think Google should use Apple maps as default maps in android instead of trying hard

    • Suman Gandham

      :D

  • Campbell Kerr

    I'd like offline aerial map data for bushwalking/exploring (with GPS to show where I am on the maps). Eg when there are no roads/trails, and all you've got to go on is bush/forest. Good luck getting signal out there.

  • David Anderton

    Good that they are starting to bring offline maps back, but like I said this is a start. It was still better than this 2 years ago.

  • Asem Arafa

    looks like we would benefit from a competition , as Google maps holds a monopoly we wont get the basic features we need fast
    i remember when i was a nokia user the convenience of downloading a whole country's map using nokia suite and getting the maps updated automatically when i connect the phone to the pc
    i would like to see nokia maps on play store soon , so we see some progress from google.

    • Luis

      You can get it in the new Nokia X, which is Android, or any Lumia with Windows Phone.

  • TheLastAngel

    They just can't get this right.

    I would love to know their reasoning behind this flawed implementation.

  • hj

    "but it's still a thing that may be useful to someone at some point"

    Uhm, NO!

  • wq

    WOW! One look at the comments and it apperas even the most die-hard Google fanboys are upset with their Maps. LOL.

  • Andres

    It says "area unavailable" im in Argentina

  • http://www.salescopywriter.net/ Alan

    That's plain retarded.

  • Tim Smith

    Couldn't there be antitrust issues with offering full blown free products that would annihilate smaller map and GPS companies?
    You see this a lot with big tech companies. They stop short of giving you the full featured product. Microsoft was sued for integrating IE.