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How to save Google Maps for offline use on Android and iPhone

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Google Maps is invaluable whenever you need to find your way around unfamiliar places and has opened up the world to us every bit as much as cheap air travel. But it’s not without its downsides.

For one thing, Maps is a data-hungry service and using it regularly can really eat into your monthly allowance.

Then there’s the fact that if you can’t get a signal in the area where you’re lost, you won’t be able to access Google’s mapping software at all. So unless you approach some locals for directions, you’re likely to stay lost.

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That’s not all, though. In our experience Google Maps can be a real drain on your battery too.

The good news is that you can actually use Google Maps offline. The even better news is that doing so means you don’t need a signal and you won’t eat into your data allowance. And you won’t put undue strain on your battery either.

Setting up offline maps on iPhones or Android phones is a simple process and only takes a few minutes.

It can be set up for your holiday destination, which is handy if you’re taking a break somewhere that isn’t covered by your network’s inclusive international roaming scheme.

It’s also a good idea to download the areas you frequent regularly, such as your place of work. So you’ve got maps to hand in an emergency, when mobile networks often go down.

So for the sake of example, let’s say we're off to Lisbon next week. Here, we’ll walk you through setting up an offline map of the city.

1 Search for your chosen location

Google Maps offline 1

Open Google Maps and search 'Lisbon', then tap 'More Info' and then 'Download'.

2 Choose the size of the area to download

Google Maps offline 2

This is important. That’s because the bigger the area you need a map for, the more storage it’ll take up on your phone.

Once you’ve selected the area to save by panning and zooming the map, tap on “Download”.

There’s a limit to the size of the area you can download, at the time of writing this was 120,000km2. This would cover about half the size of the UK and use up around 1.5GB of storage.

Downloading a map for a large city, such as London, uses up around 200MB of space.

That’s small enough that you should easily be able to find room for it, even if you find you’re frequently rubbing up against your phone’s storage limit.

3 Manage your offline areas

You can easily manage and delete offline maps that you no longer need. This’ll free up space on your phone.

To do, when you’re in Maps go to 'Settings' > 'Offline Maps' and select the map you want to edit.

You can then either 'Update' or 'Delete' the offline map.

Google Maps offline 3

One important thing to be aware of is that with offline maps you can get driving directions, but not public transport, bicycle routes or walking directions.

You’ll also be without traffic information and you won’t be able to see alternative routes that would allow you to avoid tolls or having to take a ferry.

Despite these limitations, offline maps is a helpful little feature that everyone should be familiar with.

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Category: Guides
Tagged: smartphones

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