Google Maps is getting disconnected, as a result of an update for Android phones released on Tuesday, which will allow you to search nearby businesses and get driving directions even if your Internet connection is non-existent. With the updated app, you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there’s no connectivity - whether it’s a country road or an underground parking garage - Google Maps will continue to work. Whereas before you could simply view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings.
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. What you won't get with offline mapping is traffic information.
When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route. By default, the app will only download areas to your device when you are on a Wi-Fi connection to prevent large data fees.
Google first previewed these new capabilities during Google I/O in May, and today thay are gradually rolling out the first set of these improvements with the latest version of Google Maps on Android (coming soon to iOS). Over time, Google promises to introduce even more offline features.