Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Los Angeles magazine, and beyond.
And it was good.
Rejoice! Amid last night’s thunderclouds, the gods of Google Maps fashioned a new tool for humans. As of today, the abundant data can be accessed even in barren lands without wi-fi access.
You remember what life was like yesterday. Walking in the woods or passing through another untrustworthy connection zone was a taste of hell, without turn-by-turn driving directions, destination search, and useful business information.
Now, friends, if you have received the maps update on your Android device, you may use all the aforementioned functionalities—with or without wi-fi—by pre-downloading maps of areas in which you plan to journey. Thus spake Google:
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.
Map data from hundreds of countries may be downloaded in this manner. Unchosen people (iOS users) will have to wait a few more months, but these gifts will soon be theirs, too.
Perhaps the Creators will one day deliver a way to access such services without wi-fi and without pre-downloading. Perhaps their Driverless Cars will offer such gifts. Not that I dare question their powers or express any desires beyond what they’ve given us thus. #blessed.