it is now possible to download a map of an area and use it off-line. I tried this out in London earlier this month, as the underground (subway) was closed for engineering works and I had to make my way around town by bus.
It’s easy to cache a map: simply drag and drop the desired area onto the map. It’s therefore easy to create a map of your local area, or any other place you are visiting, which then can be used off-line to help with navigation.
Drag and drop the desired area onto the map. The above screen shot shows how I cached my neighbourhood in London before heading out for some sightseeing during the subway shutdown.
You then have the option of opening the cached map in Google Earth or saving it as a KML file. Saving as a KML file is useful if you are planning to use this specific geographic area again later on. By default, saved maps are stored under “My Places” so you need to remember to select the “On Device” directory if you want to store it locally on your device.
Google Maps Caching Example
You can download the saved map to your device for use off-line. Google Maps caches up to around 15MB of mapping data, depending upon the size of the area you are caching. The above screenshot shows that I have 19 MB cached for my neighbourhood in London.
A new “Offline Areas” section under Your Places allows you to see
I used the above downloaded map during my bus journey around London and found it very useful. However, I later discovered that Google had guessed incorrectly about where I was staying so it placed the hotel inside a park (!) – but I guess this just goes to show the power of crowdsourcing.
In any case, it’s a great feature and one that all Google Maps users will benefit from – especially during subway shutdowns!
Cached maps can be opened in Google Earth by using this menu option. This is useful to see where you have been/are going during your off-line travels.
Note: Although the download and caching performance of Google Maps on my iPad is better than with the iPhone, I still find it a bit sluggish and even after an hour or so (with a strong wi-fi connection) some areas were not cached. However, I am told that this will be fixed shortly.
Google has also increased the number of supported map types that can be cached, including hiking trails and terrain.
Going forward it will also be possible to create your own custom maps for offline use. This is done by creating a Google Map, zooming in on the area you want to save, selecting “Save this map to use offline” from the menu (bottom right corner) and then following the instructions.
Offline areas can be used in the Google Maps app, Android devices, and on the Web.
There’s an online help page for more information about how to prepare offline areas on your device or on-line. Just type “Create an offline area” into the search box on google.com/maps. To download a map: Make sure that you’re connected to the internet and zoom into the area that you’d like to download. Click Menu Your places Offline areas. Click Download. A new window will appear, showing your offline areas (if any). For each area, either click Use this area or Get KML, as desired. If you choose Get KML, a new window will appear and you’ll be prompted to save the file to your computer. Click Save. Files end in .kml and can be opened using Google Earth on both Mac and Windows.