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. But at the same time the internet connection can be too slow and not enough to download a full map and build a route.
Luckily offline mode comes to the rescue allowing you to download in advance a map of a selected area together with all its roads and key points onto your Android / iOS device. After doing it you can use Google Maps offline and you only need GPS connection to satellites.
How to download city / area in Google Maps
The feature of offline maps allows you to download the maps of cities and other locations onto your memory card or to the internal memory of your device.
This can be done in the following way:
1. Open Google Maps app on Android
2. Find the menu in the upper left corner and select "Offline Maps"
3. Then click on "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 clicking 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.
Further work with Google Maps in offline mode
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, clicking 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 Google Maps 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 Moscow (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 in Google Maps 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 on Android
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 click 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 click 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.