Offline Maps: A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Without an Internet Connection in iOS 17

Offline Maps: A Guide to Navigating Without an Internet Connection

Apple’s Maps app in iOS 17 introduces an exciting new feature: offline maps. With offline maps, you can now download specific areas onto your iPhone, allowing you to access maps even without a cell signal or without using your data.

Putting Offline Maps to the Test

To determine the effectiveness of offline maps, I decided to test them in my hometown for a couple of days. My wife and I used the offline maps to find our way to different destinations, such as grabbing coffee downtown, visiting an outdoor market, driving back home, going downtown for dinner after an NFL game, driving to and from the gym, and even walking our dog around the neighborhood.

Downloading Maps for Offline Use

If you find yourself in an unfamiliar area without Wi-Fi or a cell signal, it’s advisable to have a downloaded map. Here’s how you can download maps for offline use:

1. Open the Maps app

Locate and open the Maps app on your iPhone.

2. Pin Your Desired Area

Find the area you want to download a map and long press on that area. You’ll notice a pin dropping on your screen to mark the spot.

3. Start the Download

Tap on the “Download” button at the bottom of your screen. An outline will appear over the map, representing the area you are about to download. Adjust the map size as desired and tap “Download” to begin the process. A notification banner will inform you once the map has finished downloading.

Accessing Offline Maps Settings

Once you have downloaded your maps, you can access the offline maps settings page. Here’s how:

Step 1: Open the Maps app

Launch the Maps app on your iPhone.

Step 2: Tap on Your Profile Picture

In the bottom-right corner of your screen, tap on your profile picture.

Step 3: Select “Offline Maps”

Choose the “Offline Maps” option from the menu.

On this settings page, you can add new offline maps and use a switch to rely on offline maps exclusively. When toggling the button, your map will display “Using Offline Maps” on the top, and you can tap it to return to the offline maps settings page.

Expectations and Limitations of Offline Maps

Using offline maps is a similar experience to using the Maps app while connected to the internet. You can search for your destination, choose your mode of transportation, and add any necessary stops along the way.

While on the road, offline maps behave similarly to their online counterparts. The map will track your progress, display nearby restaurants and businesses, and even show the speed limit of the street you’re on. Siri will provide turn-by-turn directions throughout your journey, keeping you informed and guiding you to your destination.

However, there are a few distinctions between offline and online maps. The most significant difference is that offline maps cannot provide real-time traffic updates. Therefore, the estimated arrival time may not account for unforeseen traffic conditions.

During my personal experience with offline maps, I encountered two notable issues. Firstly, if you deviate from the recommended route, it takes some time for the offline map to recalibrate and locate you again. For instance, while navigating through traffic, I made some impromptu turns, and the map showed me off the intended path briefly.

Secondly, offline maps can be compared to physical maps regarding their limitations. You may encounter unexpected delays due to traffic; if you make a wrong turn, it might take a moment to find your way back on track. Nevertheless, with some patience and preparedness, you will ultimately reach your destination. It never hurts to bring along some snacks, just in case.

For more information, check out my comprehensive iOS 17 review and the iOS 17 cheat sheet, and learn how to download the latest operating system.

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