How to Use Google Maps Offline in Android
Here’s a quick guide how to use Google Maps offline in Android which I tried out during my trip in Paris. Offline Google Maps is a new feature added in late June, 2012.
Limitation Note 1: Only the map data is stored. Getting new directions, searching addresses/locations and Google Navigation do not work without a data connection. Still should be useful when you are lost and need to know where you are and where to go.
Limitation Note 2: Maps may or will not load after restarting Google Maps. If you loaded the map right before your trip it will work but I’ve noticed after a restart, the app does not open the map at all. (this may differ by device)
1. The first thing you need to do is to update your Android Google Maps App through Google Play. (direct link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.maps&hl=en)
a. Open Google Play
b. Search for Google Maps
c. Update or Install App to version 6.9.0 or later
2. Once you have the most updated version, you need to set a square map area (tile) of the map to store offline. (Unfortunately, you cannot download whole countries or continents but a single area should well cover more than a large metropolitan area or small country. You are able to download and store multiple areas.)
a. Open your Google Maps app.
b. Move over to the area of the map you wish to store on your phone.
c. Hit the menu button in the top right corner (or the phone menu button for older phones) and select “Make available offline”.
e. The map data will start to download.
Once the map is downloaded, you can open any section of the stored map to get the detailed map. Layers such as transit lines/subway stops can be stored as well.
If you need a completely free offline navigation app, try Navfree. It seems to do the job.
Google Maps should at least include the ability to search addresses, POIs(Point of Interests) and should be able to provide directions (Google Navigation). I imagine these will be included one by one as Apple broadens its own map features but with its current limitations, I still find Google Maps to be inconvenient without a data connection.