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Using Apple Maps offline (without data)? Best alternatives for iOS
The Apple Maps app is installed in iOS and is used by default for navigation. The maps require constant access to the Internet in order to work. This creates various kinds of inconveniences, and that is why readers ask: how to use Apple Maps offline.
In this FAQ, we'll answer frequently asked questions and suggest solutions specifically for iPhone users: what applications to use instead of Apple Maps for offline navigation, their pros and cons, what features are similar to Apple Maps and will be relevant to the users?
Table of Contents
- Does the Apple Maps app support offline maps?
- Does apple maps work without data?
- What should you do if you need offline maps?
- Apple Maps key features
- How to download city / area in Google Maps
- Do saved offline maps occupy a lot of space?
- Limitations on using offline maps
- How fast do saved maps become outdated?
- Which areas can be saved for offline use on Google Maps
- Best iOS offline maps apps
- MapFactor Navigator
- Here Maps (Here WeGo)
- Citymapper: All Your Transport
Does the Apple Maps app support offline maps?
Here's an example of a question I'm asking:
I'm traveling to Berlin, and I have the Apple Maps app. I don't plan to buy a sim card and I don't have an international data plan. Will I be able to use the maps on my iPhone 13?
The answer is: No. Neither partially, nor the entire app allows you to download maps to your iPhone and use them offline. Apple Maps automatically saves your route offline every time you build a route, but it does not allow you to use Apple Maps offline.
There is no full-fledged ability to save maps offline. The user cannot tap on the Download button, as in Google Maps, and download the data for offline use.
Does apple maps work without data?
The Apple Maps app can not be used offline despite the fact that all the maps are cached and are shown correctly. It is recommended to build the route while you still have unlimited access to networks as thus maps will be more informative and have more details.
Apple Maps can also be used while GPS navigation is enabled but without mobile data or WiFi in is not possible to use the realtime functions.
What should you do if you need offline maps?
First of all, forget about Apple Maps. As said, the app doesn't have features for offline viewing of area maps, so in an unfamiliar city you'll be deprived of the benefits of offline navigation.
Theoretically, you can find wi-fi access in a cafe or other public place, but as soon as you leave the range of the Internet, you will not be able to find information on Apple Maps.
The solution to the problem is simple enough. Download another app on your iPhone, where offline navigation functions are supported. Below we will tell you about such applications for iOS.
Each of them has its own unique features that might not be useful for pedestrians or might be unnecessary for drivers. The most popular and best navigation apps you can download for iOS (iPhone 12, 13, 14 etc).
Apple Maps key features
Apple Maps is pre-installed on all iPhone devices. Due to the fact that this app is released exclusively for iOS, it's unavailable for any other operating system.
Apple Maps contain information on roads around the whole globe. The only limitation is 3D-panorama mode which is available only in the major cities of the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK and some Western European countries.
The app provides detailed voice support offering nuanced explanations of exactly where to turn and which road to choose at the fork. The maps also show large establishments and gas stations, as well as information on public transport routes.
How to download city / area in Google Maps
It's difficult to navigate with no maps or navigation app in an unfamiliar place and this is the case when Google Maps app steps in.
Google Maps is a great replacement for Apple Maps with offline map support.
Key features of the app:
- All features are absolutely free since the app is included in the basic iOS set
- Avoiding driving along toll roads
- Speed limit during the route
Offline mode allows to download a map of a selected area in advance - together with all its roads and key points. After doing it you can use Google Maps offline. The only thing you need is GPS connection to satellites.
This can be done in the following way:
1. Open Maps app on iPhone
2. Find the menu in the upper left corner and select Offline Maps
3. Tap Select your own map, if you want to specify the area you want to save on your own
4. You have to specify the region you want to save on your device. In order to increase the size of any area, swipe up inside the rectangle.
5. Drag it down, if you want to reduce the size.
6. When the choice is made, press Download in order to download a Google map.
7. After download is complete, the map of the selected region will be available even with no internet connection.
Also pay attention to the additional settings of offline mode which you can access by tapping on the gear in the upper right corner of the screen. The following features can be found in the settings:
- automatic update of downloaded maps;
- automatic download of maps when connection appears;
- download of maps only when WiFi is enabled or when any network is available;
- if there is an SD card inserted into your device, an additional item "Data Storage" will appear in the settings. Here you can choose where to save new areas: in internal memory or on an external SD card.
If you open Google Maps while being in the saved area, it'll be automatically downloaded from the memory of your device. At the bottom of the screen you will see a notification stating that you are in offline mode which confirms that at the moment no internet traffic is used.
You can rename saved areas in Google Maps in order to make it easier to navigate through the list by opening offline mode, tapping on the three vertical dots next to the saved map and pressing "Rename".
There you can also delete a downloaded map or update it. Under the title of any saved area you can find the date when this file will be considered an outdated one.
Do saved offline maps occupy a lot of space?
It all depends on the selected area and the number of roads and map objects since the greater the coverage is, the more this file usually weighs. For example, a poorly detailed map of a small town or a selected section of a route will take a bit, like 10 MB.
At the same time, a high-quality map of NY (with a large number of roads and institutions) will require about free 125 MB on your device.
Keep in mind that the size of the area available for saving is limited: the more cities you try to fit in a rectangle, the smaller it will be.
Accordingly, this will reduce the amount of details of roads, so we recommend to save several files covering smaller areas. When moving from one saved area to another, maps will be automatically downloaded from your device memory.
Limitations on using offline maps
Offline mode allows you to map routes in the same way as in online mode. The key differences between offline and online maps:
- there is no possibility to make a walking route and upload data on traffic jams;
- the map modes "Terrain" and "Satellite" aren't available;
- after a route is built there is no way you can activate it to hear directions from the voice assistant;
- you can't track your location on Google Maps.
A tip: when you enable "Satellite" mode the color of a map changes to black and gray so you can use it in the dark.
How fast do saved maps become outdated?
The speed of a map getting out of date depends on the area you've chosen to save. Densely populated areas usually become outdated quite soon as new points appear (public places, roads) that require to be updated on time. If you mainly keep areas between cities or of small settlements, then update might be required once in few months or even years.
The saved maps are updated as follows:
- The app will notify you, if you need to update one or several maps so just tap on the notification, find outdated maps and select "Update"
- You can also update the maps manually: launch Google Maps app, go to "Offline Maps" section, select a saved file from the list and tap on "Update"
Which areas can be saved for offline use on Google Maps
Any areas supported by the offline mode are available for saving on Google Maps. During the operation of the app you'll see which part of the map you can download onto your device. The maximum perimeter you can save is around 500 km.
How do I download a map of an entire region or country?
To do this:
- Open the Maps app
- Tap the hamburger icon on the bottom of the app
- Go to the Offline maps section
- Select the region on the map you want to download
- Change the scale, if necessary
- Tap the Update or Download button
- Turn off the Internet connection and check if the map is displayed
How to update the offline maps automatically?
If you do not want to update maps manually, you can enable auto-updating through the Settings of the Maps app. To do this,
- Tap the profile icon,
- Go to Offline Maps,
- Tap the gear icon,
- Turn on Auto-update offline maps option.
After that, offline maps will update on a schedule when you have an active wi-fi connection.
Is the Internet necessary for offline maps to work?
Correct. Once you've downloaded offline maps on iOS, you can disable Wi-Fi and use the maps.
At the same time, some functions will not be available. For example, real-time traffic tracking or information about speed limits features will require a permanent internet connection.
Can I download the whole country offline map?
The maximum capacity of the map is limited to approximately 2 GB. So you will probably not be able to download an offline map of a large country or continent. However, you can save an offline map of a region or a small country.
Make sure you have enough free memory on your phone, highlight the area of the map you want, and download it to your device.
How often do you need to update offline maps and when do they become out of date?
Usually maps become out of date after 30 days of use. After this period, we advise you to update maps manually or set up auto-updating through the Google Maps settings.
Also, if you're going on a trip or a place without internet access, update offline maps while you have access to Wi-Fi. This will avoid unpleasant surprises.
Best iOS offline maps apps
|Price: Free / $10.99 - $32.99 per item|
|App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.3 out of 5|
Another app also suitable for iOS offline navigation. In offline mode, you can find a list of regions and download their maps, or use the search within the app.
As with the Apple Maps, you can find a list of hotels, inns, and canteens. There are even reviews and ratings from other users. There is no navigator, but it contains a section of attractions. You can mark places on the map adding it to your favorites.
Download link: iPhone
|App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.4 out of 5|
MapFactor offers a quick setup feature. It is convenient that you can choose the interface language - the choice is not big, but still there.
It is also important that you can customize the units of measurement, select the transport profile and the theme of the app. The next step is giving the app access to the location.
A big advantage of MapFactor is the ability to select offline maps that will be used during navigation.
The main disadvantage is that the standard map weighs more than 500 Mb on iOS, which is a lot for such an app, and not everyone needs a complete map of such a large region.
Download link: iOS
Here Maps (Here WeGo)
|Developer: HERE Apps LLC|
|App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱 3.6 out of 5|
The same as Apple Maps the app is distributed free of charge and allows its users to edit maps and update information on different cities.
The advantages of Here Maps for iPhone:
- 3D mode is available in some big cities
- Using "offline" mode when GPS is active (when this mode is enabled the nearby institutions aren't displayed)
- Offline maps are fully supported
- Automatic download of subway and tram itineraries in all supported cities
According to the developers, voice prompts work in 96 countries and information on traffic conditions is available only in 63 countries.
When you tap on a specific building, you receive full information on the institutions located there and will be able to map a route to the specified point.
Download Here Maps: iOS
Citymapper: All Your Transport
|Developer: Citymapper Limited|
|Price: Free / €2.99 - €99.99 per item|
|App rating: 🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱 4.7 out of 5|
Citymapper is a free navigation app for iPhone (iOS) which is suitable for anyone who prefers public transport to a private car.
The important distinctive features of Citymapper:
- The app collects data on public transport itineraries from carriers and ordinary users, so it's always up to date on the iPhone.
- Citymapper takes into account different ways of getting around the city, for example, the app can tell you how long you will have to wait for Uber to travel on the specified route or it can make a plan for your bike trip.
- Creating links containing the coordinates of a specified point and send them via social networks or e-mail.
The main focus of Citymapper is on hiking and cycling routes so various places located nearby aren't shown. In order to be able to get to the desired point you have to know its address. Accordingly, there are no voice prompts since pedestrians don't need them in suburbs and cities.
Download Citymapper Navigation: iOS
Ilia is a professional writer. He has expert knowledge in GPS and cartography with 15 years of experience. Additionally, Ilia has extensive experience in data recovery on PC and mobile. He started his career as a journalist by reviewing PC and mobile apps. His current responsibilities are to keep track of users' questions on MGT and answer them.