Next On Google Maps: Offline Navigation, Street Views From The Grand Canyon
By Nidhi Subbaraman
June 6, 2012
Google Maps, the enormously popular mapping service with 1 billion monthly active users, showed off its latest advances today. The announcements, while impressive, seem to be an evasive maneuver ahead of next week's World Wide Developer Conference, in which Apple is expected to announce that it will drop Google Maps from its mobile operating system.
Brian McClendon, vice president for engineering, declined to tackle those rumors head-on, saying only, "We would like to get all services on all platforms."
The most exciting news from the event is that the data-hungry mobile Maps app will now work offline. The Google Maps team is making downloadable versions of their maps that can be stored on mobile devices (but Android will get it first). Together with the compass feature on the smartphone, you can navigate a city without being connected to a 3G network.
"This provides you with familiar Google maps whether or not you have an internet connection," said Google product manager Rita Chen. Google expects these maps to be most useful for people without data plans and for those traveling outside their usual coverage area, as on international trips.