Google Maps Sends Standalone GPS Units To Early Grave With Offline Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Search

It's tough to get lost these days. That's because we're increasingly becoming connected creatures with mobile devices always at the ready, devices that can tell us where we are at any given moment and how to get to where we need to be. Well, until the connection is lost, at which point you might find yourself wandering aimlessly in unfamiliar territory. Google's solution to that is to let you download sections of the world to your phone via Google Maps.

This isn't entirely new -- it was already possible to view an area of a map offline in Google Maps -- but what's changed is that you can download an area and continue to receive turn-by-turn directions when there's no connectivity. You can also search for specific places, find useful information like hours of operation and contact info, and view ratings for places.

Google Maps

To download an area ahead of time, simply search for a city, county, or country, and tap "Download" on the resulting place sheet. You can also go to "Offline Areas" in the Google Maps menu and tap on the "+" button.

Here's the neat thing about how this all works - once you've downloaded an area, Google Maps will automatically switch to offline mode when it detects you're in a location with crummy service or no connectivity whatsoever. It's seamless, in other words. Once a reliable connection is reestablished, Google Maps will switch back online.

If you don't see the feature yet on your Android device, hang tight, as Google is gradually rolling it out. And if you're rocking an iOS handset, sit tight as well, support for this new functionality is "coming soon," Google says.