The updated Google Maps iOS provides iPhone and iPad users with features that have been available on Android for about a month already — but better late than never, right? Considering that 34% of smartphone users primarily access the internet through their phones rather than using a laptop or desktop computer to do so, Google’s focus on optimizing its apps for both Android and iOS systems is more of an investment than anything else.
The biggest — and most useful — change, according to The Verge, is the ability to download Google Maps for a specific city or region and save it locally to an iPhone or iPad to access it offline. This feature not only allows users to save the street layout, but it also provides turn-by-turn directions and business hours of local stores within the downloaded map region.
The downloaded version still doesn’t provide mass transit directions for anyone wishing to travel by bus or subway, and the larger maps (such as the one for New York City) can take up to 300 MB of space. The maps do expire after one month, however, ensuring that users constantly get updated versions and indirectly ensuring that users don’t accidentally download multiple maps, forget about them, and then wonder why there’s no space left on their phones.
Additionally, Google Maps is now providing a gas-price feature for users in the U.S. and Canada, which displays the current gas prices of nearby gas stations. This part of the app can’t be accessed offline, as Tech Times and TechCrunch noted, because gas prices fluctuate too quickly for a downloaded feature to be useful.
Google Maps may still have to compete with Apple Maps for domination over iPhone and iPad app users, but it seems that the company is moving in the right direction.