Google Maps for Android and iOS had a useful offline maps feature up until recently which you could use to save parts of the map for offline use. All you had to do is zoom in on the location that you wanted to access without Internet connection, hit the menu button and select the offline option from there.
The recent update to Google Maps 7 changed the process significantly. If you have been updated to the new version of the app already you may have noticed that there is no such functionality anymore. In fact, a tap on the menu button does nothing at all anymore.
Google has changed the way how maps are made available offline. It is not as intuitive as before and if you do not know what to do, you probably never figure it out on your own as it is simply not clear how it is done when you are using the Google Maps application.
So, instead of having a menu that you can click on to save a map to the device for offline viewing, you now have to enter OK Maps into the search to do so. It is near impossible to know how that is done unless you have read the official announcement over at the Google Blog or have someone else tell you about it.
If that was not unintuitive enough, the search box will automatically jump to the suggestions screen as soon as you start typing in the O of the command. This adds to the confusion as well as you are not sure if the command will work at all because of this.
If you type OK Maps and hit search, another thing that is not optimal, you will notice that the application switches back to the maps display. Here you should see pre-loading maps and the loading progress in per cent in the search box.
This tells you that the app is saving the contents of the part of the map that you are viewing to the device so that you can access it while you are offline.
The settings do not have options anymore to clear offline data and I'm not sure how you go about it. It is likely saved to the cache directory that you find under Android/data/com.google.android.apps.maps/cache from where it can be deleted again.
The main question is this: why did Google change the way offline maps are created? The company does not reveal any reason for that in the announcement. If I had to guess, I'd say it is to keep people from using maps offline so that they are online all the time. That's just an assumption though.
What's your take on this? Let me know in the comment section below.
Update: Google is rolling out an update right now that adds a "Make this map area available offline" link that you can tap on to make it easier to download maps for offline usage to the device.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.