One of the big criticisms of Google Maps Navigation is that it can use a lot of data. With an eye on minimising data usage in developing countries, Google has announced an update to Google Maps that will bring offline navigation and search to the service. Focussing on emerging markets, Google hopes that many more people will use their Maps and Navigation when on the go.

The offline support will work in airplane mode, or any time there’s no mobile data or WiFi connection available, with the Map saved to the phone at a previous time. Even while in airplane mode, the user will still be able to search for places and see the reviews and opening hours of these places. Interestingly, autocomplete in the search works when offline as well.

Turn by turn directions and spoken instructions will also work entirely while offline, which could be the death knell for third party navigation apps. That was their main advantage over Google Maps. Not any more.

It is unknown when this update will be released any sooner than “later this year” (a specific timeframe wasn’t given in the keynote). Stay tuned to Ausdroid to get the latest when it does.

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wonder how this will differ from the existing system of selecting a circular area of the map you want offline with a limit of around 80mb of data ?