Do you hate being chased by blood-thirsty jaguars through the thick jungles of the Amazon, only to whip out your Google Maps to find that no new route can be determined, because you have no reception/WiFi? While that may be an extreme scenario (more likely, you'd be trying to follow your cousin Earl Jr. to Aunt Beth's house in rural Idaho, and you lose sight of his Chevy half-way there in the snow), today Google Maps introduced a feature that will give users offline access (think: Airplane mode) to navigation and search in saved areas -- saving lives and cutting data bills in half.
While downloading a map and saving it to your phone is nothing new, the new feature rolled out by the big G this week will allow users to use the downloaded maps pretty much like you'd use them while connected -- with navigation and search options enabled. Here's the basics on how it will work, according to Google's press release:
"You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping "Download" on the resulting place sheet, 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 a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route."
Not only will this come in handy while in remote areas during stressful situations (i.e. the Amazon with leopards, Idaho with lead-foot Earl) if you know you use a certain area frequently, loading the map onto your phone and saving it can save a substantial amount of data and battery life -- as opposed to opening and loading your Google app every time you need it. Or, it could be a viable solution to those boring plane rides, sans WiFi. Nothing is more interesting on a long plane ride than studying the diverse and fruitful neighborhoods of lower Alabama.
Wil Fulton is a Staff Writer for Thrillist. He works for tips, but don't tell his boss that, please. Follow him @wilfulton
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