Google Maps now works on a smartphone with real-time, turn-by-turn directions even when you are offline. I've tried it in the States and it works really well. My question is, has anyone tried it for real-time driving directions in Europe yet? Also, does the app know to give your directions in kilometers instead of miles, or do you have to reconfigure your settings. Thanks.
Not yet. I too have found Google Maps navigation works great on my Android phone in the states and expect to use my phone in Europe next time instead of my aging Garmin GPS. But I plan to have data in Europe next time.
Why don't you try it "offline" before you get to Europe? Turn off mobile data on your phone, get directions while on WiFi, then go for a drive and see how it works.
I did use Google Maps my old Android briefly for walking directions in Europe - I think it was automatically in kilometers but can't remember for sure. I expect it would default to the local units of measurement where you are - that makes sense for syncing up with local road signs, etc.
I tried Google Maps navigation on my phone today without data: I turned off data, told it to find my destination while on WiFi, then headed out - only about a 7 mile trip, but it worked fine without data. Should work the same in Europe. I didn't zoom or alter my route or anything so I'm not sure how it would have handled that.
Just make sure to stay on your route. :) It will probably not be able to reroute you. Keep in mind that European roads can be much more difficult to navigate than those in the US as they are narrower, windier, and less intuitive in many places. If you can spring for it, this is something I personally wouldn't cheap out on too much. I'd get at least an app for your phone with on board maps. Considering the per hour cost of your trip and the cost of gas in Europe it may well pay itself off and then some if you make a wrong turn.
I just noticed that in addition to simply finding a route on Google Maps while on WiFi then using the phone to navigate (without WiFi or data), Google Maps also has "Download this area" feature. You can zoom into an area anywhere in the world, and it will tell you how much data the map area you have selected will take - and how much space your phone has remaining. My phone doesn't have much - only just over 2GB available, but most areas I've selected seem to take from 175MB to 1.5GB (1500MB) of space on the phone, so it looks like I'd be fine. (The more you can zoom in to narrow the area, the less space it will take.)
Google Maps has always been able to continue your routing during loss of cell signal. It wouldn't be able to help you if you strayed from the directed route and needed rerouting, though. The new offline capability adds the ability to map new routes and to re-route following an unplanned detour.
I experimented with it in the Caribbean over Christmas. In my experience it's not sufficient to define and download maps for a large area. You'll get the map resolution that you see when you download. Maybe there was some trick that I missed but for example if I selected and downloaded an entire island I didn't have good street-level maps that I could have used for walking in a particular neighborhood.
Some very inexpensive phones may require a data signal to get a fix since the GPS chips in those phones rely on the network for satellite position (ephemeris) information. I had an old Samsung phone in Zurich a couple of years back and could get a fix in the hotel when I was on WiFi but not when I didn't have a data connection even though I was using an offline maps app. Newer phones should solve that but I don't know about the $50 Android phones you can buy at the grocery.
"offline" means without any internet connection, wifi or otherwise. For discussions on offline maps or on creating custom offline maps, check out this thread:
Best alternative is to use the offline app called HERE.
Excellent track record.
Remember to load maps and create lists (called "collections") while online. I did most of this before traveling - part of my trip preparation.
Not a problem in Helsinki.
"The city of Helsinki offers a free WLAN-service for residents and travelers alike. No passwords or registration required. Just look for "Helsinki City Open WLAN" from the available networks."
I have used it many times and have not had a problem in Austria, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, and The Netherlands, and Switzerland. Your mileage may vary but, before I started using local SIM cards in these countries, Goolge Maps Offline was a god send.
Thanks for all your responses. I'll be trying Google Maps offline in Ireland in May and I'll report back how well it works.
To answer the above request, Google Maps does NOT work offline for walking directions. I've tried it and it fails to update when I take a wrong turn, and there are no voice directions. If DOES work for driving directions offline, so if you take a wrong turn, it will recalibrate and give you new directions.
If you are tech-savvy, you can download walking directions while you're online, turn off data roaming, and then follow the route while you are offline. There should be a blinking blue dot to show you where you are related to the route that you downloaded.
Yep, in Switzerland, Germany, and France. Perfectly awesome but I was always scared that the NEXT time I needed it it wouldn't work.
Now I buy a 30 CHF SIM card and use my phone AS MUCH AS I WANT. Seriously. It took me 3 weeks to use up 30 CHF worth of data and I used it constantly!
I rented a wifi hotspot from MyWebSpot.com so in addition to staying otherwise connected I could use GoogleMaps. The two work great together. Have now used in Germany, Luxembourg and France.
Just got back from a trip to Ireland and Google Maps worked fine offline. You must have a Google account and download maps of regions where you are driving in advance. The day of your trip, you ask for directions--I did this part online--and then switch to airplane mode for the rest of the journey. You still get real-time, voice, turn-by-turn directions, although once or twice the app dropped the voice directions--not sure why but it was not a big problem.
As I've said many times before, a vote for HERE maps from Nokia.
"It's especially useful if you want to navigate your way through strange and foreign lands, where data roaming is expensive, but be aware, Nokia's maps will take up a significant portion of your iPhone's storage. A map of Europe requires 9.3GB, for instance, while a map of the USA will take up 4.4GB.
The great thing about these true offline maps is that they still allow for the discovery of new places in your chosen area. You can be in Flight Mode and still find a place to eat in a town you've never visited in your life. Obviously, you won't get traffic updates without a data connection, but offline navigation is where Nokia has all of its rivals beat, comprehensively."
Check out maps.me (both the app name and the website).
It is made specifically for this purpose. It is completely offline, and you can download regions or countries before you visit. It has all countries and all cities available, and it is highly detailed. It also shows attractions, restaurants, etc.
Jim mentioned HERE. I had pretty good luck with it when I got lost on foot in various places in Spain. I used it on my iPod Touch. If it could find my location, it was great. I am not savvy, so I could be way off, but my guess is that it works by using a satelite connection to locate your position . . . sometimes in narrow streets it couldn't "find" me, but when I got to an open space, just meters away, it was fine. Once it had a location, it would plot routes. I've also used it a couple times when driving in Israel with decent results.