1. Download our Official Android App: Forums for Android!

Why won't Google just let us download the maps???

Discussion in 'Android Apps & Games' started by garybeck, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. garybeck

    garybeck Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    38
    Posts:
    305
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2011

    Apr 19, 2011
    305
    17
    38
    I like using Google Maps, My Tracks (also by Google) and while I haven't tried their Navigation system yet I intend to soon.

    the really annoying thing is how it is dependent on a data connection to work. I am often driving down a highway where phone reception and 3G goes out, and all of the sudden my GPS is useless. Just today I went for a short drive down a dirt road and just a mile in, my GPS lost its 3G connection and became completely useless.

    Another issue is, my service contract does not cover Canada and I live 2 hours from the border. So once I cross into Canada, not only do I lose my phone and data service, I also lose my GPS.

    I had a WM phone that was otherwise pretty crappy before, but I downloaded Garmin for Windows Mobile and it installed all the maps right on the phone. then it didn't matter if I had a data/wifi connection at all. as long as I could get a GPS signal I was good to go. Even if I didn't even have a contract with a provider at all, I had a good working GPS. And when I went to Canada not only could I get directions, I could find thousands of waypoints that were stored on my phone.

    I am wondering, why doesn't Google just let us download the maps, like Garmin does? This would make our Android devices work like a real GPS and they wouldn't crap out every time we go out of range, which is really a silly thing for a GPS to do.

    I realize there are other GPS apps (I've read copilot is good) that store the maps locally, and I guess I'll eventually try one of them. But it seems silly to have to do this. Then I'd have two GPS apps taking up space on my device when I really only need one.

    I would guess that eventually Google will give us the maps. Until then, anyone know why they are dragging their feet?
     

    Advertisement

  2. prjctchris

    prjctchris Member
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    16
    Posts:
    39
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011

    Having maps streamed to you means that you're always getting the most recent mapping information currently available from Google. Sure, local maps can always be updated, but a lot of map apps are enormous in size. Google Maps also uses vector based map tiles so loading a new map tile, even under very poor service, is still fast. It could also be a licensing issue to have users download maps locally.

    Also, when you use Google Nav, the app will pre-cache the map tiles for your route ahead of time on 3G or WiFi eliminating most if not all of your issues when driving and service is lost.
     
  3. garybeck

    garybeck Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    38
    Posts:
    305
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2011

    Apr 19, 2011
    305
    17
    38
    i understand all that, however, still, this adds a HUGE disadvantage to the system, which is really unnecessary. the Google Nav preload thing only works if you plan out your route ahead of time. what if you are just driving down a highway and you want to know where you are? it just won't do it. no matter how fast it is with even a slow connection, if there is no connection you are SOL and that defeats the whole purpose of a GPS which is supposed to help you when you are lost (not when you are lost AND you are in 3G range).

    downloading maps and keeping them updated is not really an issue. on my old phone I installed the North America maps (USA and Canada) from Garmin and it took less than 2GB. I downloaded the data on my desktop computer with a good fast connection and copied it to my phone. It included a ton of waypoints for finding gas stations, rest areas, restaurants,,, you name it... all on my SD card. I'd be HAPPY to use up to 2GB on my microSD card of my Android phone to have a real GPS that works without 3G.

    updating is not really an issue either. It's not like have to do it daily. roads don't change that much. let people update optionally when they want. doing it once a year or so is more than enough for me.

    another thing I didn't mention is that some people are paying for 3G data. they shouldn't have to pay to use a GPS, when they can get the maps on their phone by free wifi.

    AND... another thing is battery drain. Some people need their GPS to work and don't want to drain their battery faster by having to keep the 3G on when they don't otherwise need it.

    I understand there are some good things about utilizing the data connection. But this should be an option, not a requirement.
     
  4. Tre Lawrence

    Tre Lawrence Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    163
    Posts:
    1,523
    Joined:
    May 24, 2010

    May 24, 2010
    1,523
    259
    163
    Well, technically, you don't have to use Google Maps. There are other non-free options that will allow you to download maps.
     
  5. barqers

    barqers Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    78
    Posts:
    753
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010

    Nov 5, 2010
    753
    72
    78
    Personally, copilot for Canada & USA on android is amazing. Lots of settings, and works like a charm. Love it.

    And in comparison to the price of a standalone GPS, it's pretty cheap.
     
  6. amlothi

    amlothi Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    143
    Posts:
    1,185
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010

    Jul 23, 2010
    1,185
    201
    143

    I don't see how downloading maps for offline use solves this problem. You still have to download the maps of the area you are going to be before you get there.

    Also, navigation won't work on Google Maps, even if you have the maps downloaded. Your phone isn't being used to calculate the route. Google's servers are calculating the route and sending that route to your phone.

    Also, points of interest change often. You would have to download all of those.

    I can't tell you how many times I've had my Tom Tom tell me to go the wrong way because the maps are outdated. And there is no way for my Tom Tom to update and get the latest information while I'm still on the road. That sucks!

    I much prefer Google Maps where I can pre-cache a route or area of maps, but still have the option of getting more things on the fly anytime I need them with a data connection.
     
  7. renedokbua

    renedokbua Lurker
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    5
    Posts:
    9
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010

    Apr 11, 2010
    9
    0
    5
    They could cache the maps so that if there was a connection and an update it would download the update, otherwise use the old data. This is how most of this type application works.

    I think Google have made a deal with the carriers to ensure customers are as reliant on the 3G connection as possible. Pure business.
     
  8. secrecyguy

    secrecyguy Well-Known Member
    Rank:
     #418
    Points:
    36
    Posts:
    84
    Joined:
    May 14, 2011

    May 14, 2011
    84
    3
    36
    Keep in mind that the Google Maps Navigation is in beta. For a long time, Google wasn't allowed to have navigation because of the license.

    I used Google Maps Navigation and I noticed few issues with it. It's not quite ready yet. One thing I do like is they find faster routes during traffic jams.

    I still keep my other GPS in my car.
     
  9. takeshi

    takeshi Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    163
    Posts:
    3,354
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2009

    Dec 6, 2009
    3,354
    283
    163
    It's not the way they've designed their app. Why won't you download a suitable nav app (e.g. CoPilot, Navigon, etc) if you want locally stored maps? Google Maps Nav isn't alone in being a GPS nav solution that relies on data. Telenav has done this for ages. There are plenty of other apps that do as well on various platforms. I wouldn't expect the app developers to suddenly change their approach just for you.

    Your GPS is fine. It's Google Maps that can't download the map data. There's an important distinction there that many don't seem to understand. Again, if you need locally stored maps then use an appropriate solution.

    It's not silly to use a non-stock app that meets your needs. It seems sillier to me to in insist on using stock apps that don't work for you. To me, a major benefit of Android is its app selection and extensibility. For example: my Droid shipped with an email client that supports ActiveSync. However, the stock email client is missing a lot of functionality and features that I want. That's why I use Touchdown.

    Is having a little more free space more important than having an app that actually suits you?

    Based on what? Google favors the cloud approach if you've been paying attention to recent events. Also consider their existing services and products and how they store data. This approach also allows then to crowdsource data (such as traffic) from a far larger pool than they would have if Google Maps Nav could operate autonmously. Think about what Google's core business is. They assimilate and analyze data and sell advertising. I wouldn't expect them to ever offer locally stored maps for these various reasons. The caching feature is as close as it will get IMO.


    Here's the difference:

    - There are GPS apps that use locally stored maps such as MapDroyd (I think) but require the user to manually download maps and tiles as needed.

    - There are GPS nav apps that use locally stored maps such as CoPilot and Navigon. Generally, the maps are downloaded when the app is downloaded and map data is included for a region (country, continent, whatever).

    With the former, you have to plan and download maps for each trip. With the latter, it's basically a one-time download for the region and you can hit the road whenever you want without figuring out which maps or tiles you need. It's significant difference from the user's point of view. Precaching with Google Maps Nav is like the first option I listed above. IMO it's a PITA. YMMV, of course as there are plenty who are happy with manually precaching/downloading.

    Every option has pros and cons. You favor locally stored maps and see a HUGE disadvantage. I recently took a 3,000 mile road trip relying only on Google Maps Nav and I don't consider it a huge disadvantage. I've logged well over 10,000 miles relying on similar smartphone nav solutions that downloaded map data. Don't assume that your needs/wants are universal. Again, pick the solution that fits your needs/wants.

    You can gripe about Google Maps Nav here and not accomplish anything or you can download and use the right tool for your preferences and situation. Your call.
     
  10. meatcookie

    meatcookie Newbie
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    15
    Posts:
    26
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011

    Apr 29, 2011
    26
    0
    15
    I just took a trip through Canada and used the app "alpinequest." (last time I use nav on internation roaming, it cost me $300!) It was pretty badass. You use a program I think called mapcreator to choose what maps you want and from what source and what zoom levels and you're off. A wee bit of a learning curve, and the maps don't automatically switch (ie - I had to tell it to load my Canada Driving map (which has a couple of zoom levels) when I left MI, then once I got to Niagara, I had to tell it to oad a map I created with with deeper zoom levels for walking. It's really quick to do, though). You can also load topos and other stuff. When you use mapcreator, do NOT get the new beta thing that's out - it has just some limited crappy maps available. Get the version just before it...did I mention that everything was free?
     
  11. Usta

    Usta Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    333
    Posts:
    2,585
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2010

    Jul 8, 2010
    2,585
    1,375
    333
    The Netherlands
    Google Maps and Navigation is excellent piece for many users. It's free and offers the basic navigation with up-to-date maps. Basically you get something valuable for free.

    I'm personally not satisfied with such a solution (yet). For that reason, I use other software like Copilot: it offers more features and doesn't hurt my bill whenever I'm in abroad (and that happens a lot in Europe).

    We have a choice, and if someone is not satisfied with Maps, there are good alternatives (with recent rumors that also TomTom is joining Android family).
     
  12. MyNamesTooLong

    MyNamesTooLong Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    78
    Posts:
    826
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2011

    Jan 17, 2011
    826
    51
    78
    Am I the only person that uses the "get directions option?"
     
  13. daveybaby

    daveybaby Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    93
    Posts:
    919
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009

    Sep 21, 2009
    919
    105
    93
    Software engineer
    UK
    Using copilot for satnav is all well and good (and i do use it), but where google maps falls down for me is when i'm abroad.

    If i'm exploring a foreign city i want to be able to download maps and data for the area in advance, at all zoom levels (either locally via wifi or even before i leave home) so that i can use google maps seamlessly to navigate without it costing me a fortune in roaming fees.

    I totally understand why google dont want you just storing all of their data locally, but it'd be great if google would let you temporarily cache data for an area (they could encrypt it & time limit it to keep if safe). Pretty sure that's what a desktop browser does with their data after youve viewed it anyway, and it's what google earth does also. Just let us pre-cache a region for a short while. I know there are already apps out there that do this, but the free map data resources just arent as good. Some apps used to cache google maps, but google have blocked this - again this is understandable, but there's no reason google cant do this themselves...
     
  14. garybeck

    garybeck Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    38
    Posts:
    305
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2011

    Apr 19, 2011
    305
    17
    38
    I'm talking about downloading all the maps for the continent. once you do this you don't have to download anything before a trip. the only thing you need is a GPS signal to get your location. this is how all GPS's work that aren't on a phone.
     
  15. garybeck

    garybeck Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    38
    Posts:
    305
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2011

    Apr 19, 2011
    305
    17
    38
    this is the first explanation I've heard that actually makes sense. thanks.
     
  16. ardchoille

    ardchoille Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    333
    Posts:
    3,684
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011

    Mar 8, 2011
    3,684
    1,940
    333
    Male
    Ordained Minister
    Seattle
    I can think of several reasons:
    1. The maps, and all related data, may take up more space than you have available on your phone. Google may be using a system completely different from that of Garmin.
    2. The maps, and all related data, may be in a format that your phone cannot read. Garmin may be porting their info to a format that is PC friendly.
    3. The maps, and all related data, may be updated several times per hour or once per day so you never know when your local information is outdated.

    I understand the frustration of having to rely on someone else's network for information but I have a feeling using Google is the best avenue we have for now.
     
  17. RazzMaTazz

    RazzMaTazz Android Expert
    Rank:
     #111
    Points:
    173
    Posts:
    1,391
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2011

    Jan 28, 2011
    1,391
    497
    173
    I'm sure Google's Android plate is full, and I doubt that the offline map/nav business (especially free offline maps) is high on their priority list-- since it's not their core competency, a point of leverage, nor a strategic advantage. There are lots of dedicated companies (Garmin, Tom Tom, et al) offering 3rd party solutions. Also, Google may license their maps from another company with the restriction that they don't offer offline maps. (I don't know.)


    I'd love to see Google offer free offline maps, but heck, a higher priority for me would be for them to offer a decent media player or Outlook synchronization-- both of which are absolutely unforgivable in my opinion.
     
  18. (G)

    (G) Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    68
    Posts:
    751
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2009

    I agree that it's cheap, and works. But for multi-state trips, I found it extremely confusing. It asked me for my destination (which was in a different state), and it couldn't find anything. Had to load in the map for the state I was going to (which required re-starting the program), find my destination, load in the state I was in (another re-start), and then find my route.

    I also wanted to see where my destination was on a map WITHOUT setting up a trip -- I simply wanted to see it on a map. I couldn't do that, either, without it wanting to route me there from my current location.

    The price sure is right, and I'll be using it in a few weeks in the middle of Alaska where there's no cell or data service. But it sure is confusing and counter-intuitive.
     
  19. barqers

    barqers Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    78
    Posts:
    753
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010

    Nov 5, 2010
    753
    72
    78
    I too find it a bit confusing at times. But did you only have the map for one state? Because I have the map for USA & Canada (all of it) and it never asks me to restart. Maybe it's cause you didn't have the map downloaded?

    I agree finding places on the map can be confusing at times, but it has a nice selection of POIs and works well offline. I still have my standalone GPS, but if i'm ever without it (which I usually am) then this app allows me to quickly route a walking route which is nice. Since my other GPS stays in my car.
     
  20. Stuntman

    Stuntman Android Expert
    Rank:
     #65
    Points:
    353
    Posts:
    3,550
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010

    Nov 18, 2010
    3,550
    831
    353
    Vancouver, Canada
    I would like this option of preloading maps as well. Not every place in the world allows for a data connection. Sometimes, roaming costs are prohibitive.

    I think that sometime in the future, pre-loading maps will not be needed for 80% of where people want to use maps. We're not there yet. If anything, not having the feature to pre-load maps is no big deal to 80% of the people. The remaining 20% will have to just get a different mapping app.
     
  21. BiggestManEver

    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    88
    Posts:
    367
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2010

    Jul 7, 2010
    367
    120
    88
    Huh? Aren't maps cached if you've flown over the area once before? I seem to recall that's how my WiFi Xoom works. Even if I don't have WiFi, I can see my location in maps because I've cached the locations I frequent most.
     
  22. amlothi

    amlothi Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    143
    Posts:
    1,185
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010

    Jul 23, 2010
    1,185
    201
    143


    Everything you say here, Google Maps already does, with the exception of the word navigate. Do you have the latest version?

    You cannot use navigation offline unless you've already got the route planned. You need internet connection to be able to plan any new routes.
     
  23. daveybaby

    daveybaby Android Expert
    Rank:
    None
    Points:
    93
    Posts:
    919
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009

    Sep 21, 2009
    919
    105
    93
    Software engineer
    UK
    Wow, it didnt do it a couple of months ago, but seems to handle it seamlessly now, mustve been a fairly recent update. Great, thanks for the headsup! :)

    Navigation i can live without.
     

Share This Page

Loading...