This has got to be one of the best hidden features on Google Maps: accessing maps without data – a huge advantage for when you’ve run out of data or you truly are in the middle of nowhere with no sign and in dire need of a map.
To access this feature you need the phrase that pays: “OK Maps”.
Zoom into the part of the map you most want to save for offline browsing. Tap the search bar and type “OK Maps” (excluding the quotation marks) and tap the search button. Why not just take a screenshot, you might ask. Simple: Google lets you zoom into the saved map for greater detail. This great little hack works on both iOS and Android devices.
The app saves the portion of the map that’s currently visible on your screen directly to your device.
Once saved, you can access that map even without a data connection. You can also speak to your phone – clearly and slowly so that your phone hears O and K and not “okay”.
The map takes about 10 seconds to download, depending on the size of the map you’ve selected and the speed of your internet connection. Once you see: “The on-screen map area has been cached,” you’re good to go. While you do need data for real time directions, the app is fantastic for when signal is poor or when travelling and data roaming is exceptionally expensive. Don’t forget your phone’s compass works all the time, so you’ll always know which way you’re going.
The downside to this app is that it requires a little forward thinking and you are limited in the size of map that you can download. I would highly recommend keeping this in mind next time you’re travelling. Download your map at the hotel before leaving and you’re good to go for the rest of the day without worrying about data charges.
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