Thanks to smartphones long gone are the days where you have to pullover and pull out a huge map that covers your windshield to find out where you need to go or trust someones gut feeling over a shortcut they know will get you there faster only to end up in the middle of nowhere.  However, with all the technological advances there is still the odd occasion where you find yourself following your GPS app on your phone and you enter an area where you lose service and you have no idea where to go.  Unfortunately for someone like myself who has no directional sense whatsoever thanks to years of relying on navigation systems this can be a terrifying ordeal but I won’t have to worry any longer thanks to Google and their Google Maps App update.  Google recently announced that their Google Maps service will be available offline!

“Roughly 60% of the world is without Internet today, and even where online access is available, it can still be spotty,” Amanda Bishop, a Google product manager, wrote in a blog post.  This is a huge problem, especially as people attempt to navigate and explore the world around them, so Google Maps is taking steps to help people across the globe find directions and get where they’re going, even when they don’t have an internet connection.”

“Whereas before you could simply view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings,” Bishop explained.  “You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping ‘Download’..or by going to ‘Offline Areas’ in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the ‘+’ button.  Once downloaded Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all.”

When service or connection is back, Google Maps will switch back to online mode so users can gain access to all of the Maps features, including live data.  Don’t worry you won’t get stuck with a huge data bill as by default Maps will only download to a device when there is a Wi-Fi connection.

The offline feature will be helpful to people traveling in rural areas, where internet connectivity isn’t strong or available at all.  It will also be an extremely useful tool for any nature lovers such as hikers, bikers, climbers, and skiers.

This new update will help keep Google Maps ahead of the mobile maps competition and could settle the argument for any iPhone users debating whether to keep Apple Maps or go with Google Maps.