> I bet the number of people that actually used the offline feature was a small percentage anyway.
So do I, because it was impossibly difficult to find.
Otherwise, it was quite a useful feature. For Europeans, on holiday, where they'd otherwise have to pay insanely high roaming charges. Unfortunately Google tends to be rather US-centric, so I guess as far as they were concerned it was a useless feature. Oh well.
I'm from Europe myself, but I'm only marginally crushed to see it go. The feature provided you with an offline map of an area, to be sure, but you couldn't navigate using it as calculating routes is done online. On a small phone screen, figuring out which route to take is not an easy task.
So I used the feature, of course, but only to figure out where I was in very limited geographical areas, in other words, mostly for small hikes.
I use it extensively when travelling outside my home country, i.e., where data roaming charges are insanely high. I also use it when travelling in my home country when far from major urban centres (hey, Canada is huge, man, even Ontario is huge - get too far north of the Windsor-Quebec corridor and forget about coverage).
To me, offline maps were a huge win for Google Maps, and "OK Maps" or some other weirdness is a usability nightmare.
Maybe because the offline experience wasn't good? I have been using Nokia maps on my Symbian / Windows Phones and they have been invaluable to me, especially when traveling. I know many users of Nokias who swear by offline maps.
I find this ridiculous, but you're probably right. I could run a complete offline maps application back on WinMo 7ish years ago. TomTom had the complete maps for the entire continent, text-to-speech synthesis, and directions being calculated all client-side on general-purpose phone hardware. There is no reason we should need a dedicated GPS device.
Then again, there probably already exists a similar app in the market for Android that provides all of this service offline, we're just ignoring it because it costs north of $50 or something.
I really really tried to on a recent trip overseas. It totally didn't do what I needed (I don't remember the exact details but I think it didn't allow for offline searching or something).
As a backup I had two other free nav apps on my phone (well, on my phone and also installed on an older phone and my tablet just in case) and one of them worked well enough that my wife could just watch it and yell out turns.
The hardest part was finding destinations on the map in a country without a proper addressing system (I'm looking at you Ireland). Before the trip, I had to go to google maps, find the place and get the coordinates, then save that waypoint in the app (I think it was Navfree) as a destination.
It was fussy, but functional and better than a paper map or nothing. The thing I really need from these kinds of apps is a good offline point of interest search. Unless you just happen to have the address (or coordinates!) of every place you might want to go, you end up missing this feature really quick. And even if the app has it, the data quality can by a major issue.
> It was fussy, but functional and better than a paper map or nothing.
Were you using the aforementioned free apps because there aren't paid nav apps on Android, or because said apps aren't any good/not suitable for you purposes? Not that your strategy is terribly bad, just wondering why it was necessary.
Well, beside the fact that 3G is slow as molasses outside of major cities (if there even is any coverage), data plans are severely limited (and expensive as hell if you even try to use them in another country), and that network access is slower than local storage (and more power-intensive), why would anyone want to use it, right? [/sarcasm]
I use it all the time as well, especially when making a road trip or just doing touristy stuff in DC. My phone is slow enough that I can usually figure out what street I'm trying to get on by the cached map before the network data finally starts streaming in.
Offline maps is what's kept me on the Nokia Symbian platform for so long. There are quite a few places in the US with poor or non-existent cell coverage and those tend to be the places where I really need access to map data.