Thanks to Google Maps and countless other apps, we take maps and location services for granted. While these apps are extremely powerful and helpful when you’re navigating around your homeland, things can get complicated when you’re away form your home turf. Roaming charge in foreign countries are astonishingly high and your bill can run into hundreds of dollars even for some light surfing.
In times like these it is better to have offline maps to guide you through. Download the map for the country you’re heading to, and when you have stable Wi-Fi you can forget about the expensive data plans.
Most of the apps listed here have offline search function so you can use them just like normal maps app and by turning on GPS (and not data) you can identify your current location and navigate easily. It won’t be as good as turn by turn navigation but it’s a lot better than being utterly lost.
1. Google Maps
The updated Google Maps app for Android and iOS has an offline feature but it’s really limited. You can only make the current area map offline. To do that just tap the search bar, scroll to the bottom and select Make this map area available offline. On iOS 7 it says Save map to use offline. To get the most out of the features of the updated maps app check out our detailed guide.
What is it good for? Convenience. You already have Google Maps on your phone and all if you need is an offline map of the area you’re already in, there’s no need to go looking for a whole new app.
2. Maps With Me Lite For Lots Of Platforms
Maps With Me Lite is a free no nonsense offline app for a lot of platforms (including BlackBerry). You can download offline maps for any country you like, but make sure you do so on Wi-Fi before heading out into the wild because they are pretty big downloads.
India’s map was about 100 MB (and the entire USA, which you can cherry pick by states, will cost you around 1 GB). Once downloaded though, you can pinch to zoom and pan around any area you like and relevant information will keep popping up as you get deeper into a region.
When it comes to details, Maps With Me has the basics covered. You’ll find the names for major streets easily but anything deeper than that is just physical map with no contextual data. The pro app lets you search and bookmark locations within the app.
What is it good for? Maps With Me is one of those just so you have it kind of apps. Better to download it, you never know when you might need it.
3. Here Maps For Windows Phone
If you own a Nokia Lumia phone, Here Maps come preinstalled. You can also install the app on a variety of Windows Phone devices. Here Maps is to Windows Phone what Google Maps is to the rest of the world. That doesn’t mean they’re bad. Quite the contrary. If you live in Europe or India where Windows Phone market is quite good, Here Maps offer you localized features like traffic reports and free turn by turn navigation that’s sometimes better than Google’s offering. But this depends solely on your location.
You can use Google Maps on your Windows Phone if you like but for most people Here Maps is a better alternative. When you first start app, it will ask you to download maps for offline use. If you missed it, don’t worry. From the three dotted menu, select Download Maps and select Download New Maps and download the localized map for offline use.
What is it good for? If you’re on Windows Phone, this is your best (and the only good) bet.
4. Galileo Offline Maps For iOS
Galileo is like Maps With Me but better. The offline maps download sizes in Galileo are about 60% of Maps With Me. Saving almost half of download costs and storage space is no small feat. Galileo also allows you to search through the offline maps for free, a feature that’s locked behind the pay wall for Maps With Me.
Galileo is also a well rounded maps app. The paid upgrade gets you features like driving mode, GPS tracks recording, bookmarks and a lot more. But it’s only available on iOS so Android users should still stick with Maps With Me.
What is it good for? If you’re using an iPhone, Galileo is what you should go for. It’s free and has offline search support.
How Do You Travel?
What apps/maps do you use to make your travel easier? Let us know in the comments below.