Currently, users of the Google Maps app on iOS and Android are able to save maps for offline use. These maps contain streets (including names and route numbers), geographical features (parks, rivers, lakes and so forth), saved locations, and some large or important points of interest.
If GPS signals are available, the app will show the user's current position on the map, allowing offline mode to be used for manual, handheld navigation — useful when walking around town or if you have someone riding shotgun.
As it stands, though, Google Maps users without internet access, either via mobile data or Wi-Fi, are unable to search for new locations or initiate turn-by-turn navigation.
According to Jen Fitzpatrick, Google's vice president in charge of engineering and product management, these two features will become available for saved maps from late 2015. During her keynote today, Fitzpatrick did not provide a more definitive timeline.
She also did not specify if the new offline search and navigation will available simultaneously in all markets or all platforms. In the past, some Google Maps features, such as turn-by-turn navigation, Street View and public transport integration, have been released in some countries and cities much earlier than others.
The new functionality was announced today in San Francisco during Google I/O, an annual conference organised by the company to publicise its new products and engage with its external development community.