I just returned from a trip where I led a group. During the trip, we were unconnected to Wi-Fi for most of the time when we were not in the hotel.
I wanted to use my Google Map function to find my way to a grocery store and restaurants, but without Wi-Fi, my GPS could not bring up the map. So I decided to download the map for offline use. This worked well, even when I didn’t have Wi-Fi.
I was surprised to learn that the others in my group did not know about this important feature. They encouraged me to write this column.
I assume you have a smartphone. With it, all you need to do, first, is make sure your phone has Google Maps loaded. If it doesn’t (some Apple phones come with an alternative map program), you need to install Google Maps. You do this by going to the Apple store or the Android Playstore and search for Google Maps. Download this app. You will need to be in a Wi-Fi zone to download an app or you can use your cellphone service if you are connected to a cell network.
Once the Google Maps app has been downloaded, make sure your GPS is set to on. You do this by turning on location. With GPS on, open the app and type in an address. Google Maps will bring up a map of that place. Then hit “Get Directions.” The app will ask you FROM where and TO where. The address you just searched will automatically be the TO place. The app will automatically know where you are and give you directions from there. You can override this and type in an alternative address.
Now it is time to download the maps you see for offline use. Hit the three lines at the top left of the app and then hit “Offline Maps.” Once that page comes up, hit “Select Your Own Map.” This will bring up a default map area. You can expand or shrink it. The larger the map, the more memory of your phone will be used. Then click OK. The map will start to be downloaded. Again, you will need to be in a Wi-Fi area to do this download or you can use your cellphone service. Before downloading, the map will ask you if you want to give the map a particular name. If not, the app will name the map with a generic name.
Once downloaded, the map will only stay on your phone until it expires. The download will give you an expiration date. You can also erase the map you downloaded anytime once you are finished with it to free up phone memory.
You can download several maps and store them on your phone at the same time.
Once the map is downloaded, do a test to determine that it is working. Turn your Wi-Fi off through your settings. You need to leave your GPS (Location) on. Attempt again to do a map search and a search for directions. You should be able to do these just as you did originally. The system will use the downloaded map along with your GPS. Note that leaving GPS on uses more battery. So when you do not need it, turning it off will extend the time between charges.
Note that even in places where you do not have access for Wi-Fi signal, leaving the Wi-Fi enabled is supposed to make doing this map function faster. Doing this, however, will also drain your battery faster because the system will constantly be searching for a Wi-Fi signal. So, you might want to experiment to see how your phone’s battery is affected.
Using the technique outlined above, you should feel less lost in a new place as long as you have your phone. You will be able to map your way to wherever you need to be from wherever you are, but you have to plan ahead.