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iOS 17 has a brilliant offline Apple Maps feature that Google Maps should copy

Published Aug 25th, 2023 12:31PM EDT
Apple Maps iOS 17
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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We already know that iOS 17 will bring a massive Apple Maps update to iPhone, the ability to download maps for offline use. That’s a feature we’ve had in Google Maps for years. It can come in handy when traveling to regions with poor cellular connectivity or in foreign countries with expensive roaming charges.

Our guide on how to download Apple Maps in iOS 17 details the procedure, and the entire process is quite simple. If you’ve done it on Google Maps, you’ll download Apple Maps in no time. But Apple is taking things to the next level with offline Apple Maps functionality. iOS 17 will suggest Apple Maps downloads when navigating to areas that are known to have poor cellular coverage.

That’s a brilliant upgrade for a navigation app, and it’s one that Google Maps should definitely copy.

The entire purpose of downloading maps for offline navigation is to ensure you can get around a new area without connectivity. Whether the cellular coverage is poor or you turned off your 4G/5G data to avoid roaming charges, offline maps will keep you going — on the condition that you’ve already downloaded the maps before getting to the region where you won’t have any access to data.

The problem is that you won’t know whether your next destination has good enough coverage, even if you’re not worried about data charges. You might suspect it doesn’t if you’re going to a more remote destination rather than visiting a major city. But that’s not enough. And you might forget to download your maps to use offline.

Navigating in iOS 17 will suggest Apple Maps offline downloads for remote areas.
Navigating in iOS 17 will suggest Apple Maps offline downloads for remote areas.

That’s where the new Apple Maps offline downloads feature will come in handy.

As discovered by a Reddit user, Apple Maps will now tell you that your destination might have limited service, offering a button to download the map. As you can see above, Redditor u/freaktheclown chose Yosemite National Park as the destination. That’s how Apple Maps might know the region has limited service.

That said, it’s unclear where Apple sources its coverage information from. Maybe it’s from overall Apple Maps usage from iPhone owners or data from wireless carriers themselves.

Also, it’s unclear whether the feature will be available worldwide or only in the US.

Still, it’s a smart Apple Maps feature to have, and one Google should integrate into Google Maps. After all, the latter already supports offline downloads. All it needs are similar smarts.

If you have the iOS 17 beta installed on your iPhone, you can experience the feature right now. Otherwise, you can download Apple Maps for offline use in a few weeks. That’s when the official iOS 17 release rolls out to the public.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.