Google will soon roll out an updated version of Google Maps for Android that will let users download maps to their phone or tablet for offline viewing.
This isn’t a completely new feature. Google has offered the ability to “cache” maps for selected areas to your device for almost a year. But it’s been a “labs” feature, which is Google’s way of saying “we’re still testing this — don’t count on it working perfectly all the time.”
According to The Verge, the new offline maps feature will be a bit more polished than the current Labs feature and will even work with the compass in your phone or tablet if you have one.
It’s not clear if you’ll be able to plot directions without an internet connection though. That’s something you currently need a third-party GPS navigation app for, since Google Maps downloads its data from the internet instead of storing it on your device.
That means that if you happen to be driving through an area where you phone doesn’t get good reception and you need to re-route your directions because you missed a turn, you’re kind of out of luck… for now.
Google will roll out the new feature “soon,” but it’s not clear just how soon.