Google
By Lisa Eadicicco
November 10, 2015

It’s already possible to get directions to almost any destination with the press of a button thanks to apps such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, and Waze. But without an Internet connection, these navigation apps can only do so much.

Google is aiming to improve that with a new update to Google Maps. The company announced Tuesday that it’s bringing a handful of useful new features to Google Maps that make it more functional without an Internet connection. Google Maps users will now be able to search for specific locations, get turn-by-turn driving directions, and receive information about places (hours of operation, contact information, star ratings) offline.

Before this update, using Google Maps in offline mode only allowed for interactions like panning and zooming.

Google Maps users will still have to download a map for a specific area before going offline in order to use the new features.

If a map for a specific area has been downloaded, Google will automatically kick info offline mode when a user is in an area without service. The company updates these maps over time, too, so users shouldn’t have to worry about locations being out of date. Then, when the user returns to an area with service, Google Maps will transition back to online mode.

The new features are available for Android starting Nov. 10, with an iOS update coming later this year. Google previously detailed the Maps update during its I/O conference in May, but didn’t offer a release time until now.

Many navigation apps are capable of retrieving directions without an Internet connection, as the GPS sensors in smartphones don’t require a connection to track a user’s location. While this new functionality is a big benefit for Google Maps users, Nokia’s HERE app has been offering it for quite some time. With HERE, users can download maps for offline use, find places, and get turn-by-turn directions without a connection similar to the updated Google Maps. Apple Maps doesn’t have an offline mode, but it does store information the user has already requested.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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