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Google Maps 7.0.1: Offline Maps is back, sort of

When Google launched the new version 7.0.1 of its Google Maps for Android two days ago, it was lauded for having a cleaner interface, better navigation and other nifty tweaks. But the ability to save maps offline was gone, resulting in a fair bit of grumbling. Google Engineers revealed a nifty trick:  just type “Ok Maps” into the Search Box and you could still save maps offline. A day past, and Google brought back a proper “Make this map area available offline” button. The button is hidden away though. You have to tap the Search Box to find it. Ironically, on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus, it is obscured by the stock keyboard, so you have to swipe up to minimize the keyboard to actually see the button.

The Make this map area available offline button
The “Make this map area available offline” button

Well, at least it is back. Not quite. The older version of Google Maps would allow me to save the entire Mount Aspiring National Park in New Zealand, with a 82 MB download.

Saving the area around the Mt. Aspiring National Park with the old Google Maps
Saving the area around the Mt. Aspiring National Park with the old Google Maps

Well, you cannot do it with the Google Maps 7.0.1.

Too big for the new Google Maps.
Too big for the new Google Maps.

The new version of Google Maps will only allow me to save smaller areas. At this point, I really don’t know how big an area I can save yet. But definitely it is a lot smaller. I zoomed in more, to cover a fraction of what I could save with the old Google Maps, and it was still a no go.

Still too big.
Still too big.

 The other thing missing is the old saved maps management interface which would allow you to see what also you have saved, and delete saved maps individually.

Also missing from the new Google Maps.
Also missing from the new Google Maps.

With the new Google Maps, it appears that the only way to clear saved maps is to clear the app cache. You do want to remove and update saved maps from time to time to make sure you have the latest version.

All in all, a solid update. But I will miss the old more robust offline maps feature.