What is it with companies using descriptive terms for their products that don't really match what you are getting?
Internet flatrates that limit the amount of data that you may transfer, anyone? Google rolls out an update for the Google Maps application on Android currently that brings improved offline access capabilities to the mapping app.
You need Google Maps 9.32 or higher on Android for that, and it requires that Google enables the feature for your account.
Reports are in that the company started to enable the feature for user accounts, but if you are unlucky, you may get it by Christmas or even later than that judging from past roll-out experiences.
Anyway, if you are lucky enough you get a new Wi-Fi Only toggle option, and offline settings, in the app.
When Wi-Fi Only is not Wi-Fi Only
One would assume that Wi-Fi Only means exactly that: restrict data usage to locations where Wi-Fi is available. This in turn would mean, no data connection when there is no Wi-Fi available.
Is that really the case though?
When you enable Wi-Fi Only in Google Maps, information becomes available that can be best described as a word of warning:
You Should know....
A small amount of data might still be used, but it will be significantly less while on Wi-Fi Only.
So, even if you enable a mode that is called Wi-Fi Only, Google notes that data may still be used. That does not sound much like Wi-Fi Only to me.
Google provides no explanation why data may still be used by Google Maps after enabling the mode.
One way of avoiding data usage is to turn of the device's data connection completely. It is unclear right now if this will impact the functionality of Google Maps in any way. It should, as data use would otherwise not be needed when in Wi-Fi mode only.
Google Maps highlight that Wi-Fi Only mode is enabled so that you know that this is the case.
Google Maps 9.32 ships with a list of offline settings on top of that. The settings provide the following options:
- Automatically update offline areas.
- Automatically download offline areas.
- Download preferences: Over Wi-Fi only (default).
The new Wi-Fi Only option of Google Maps for Android makes it a tad easier for users of the app to save data while using Google Maps. It is not 100% though as stated by Google as Google Maps may still use data even when the new mode is enabled.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm still waiting for better offline functionality, and offline access to maps that are not available offline yet (Tokyo for instance is not available).