Showing posts with label Google Offline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google Offline. Show all posts

Google Major Update in Maps Big Offline Google Maps Save

I don't know about you, but my Google Maps for Android has just enabled the new offline features. Even if you have the latest version of the app, you still need to wait until these features are enabled because they're gradually rolled out.

My first disappointment is that the new features are still limited. The biggest size for an offline area you can download is 120,000 square kilometers and there are many countries that are bigger than that. I downloaded London's map and checked the size of the map: 332 MB. It also expires in 29 days (maps need to be updated at least every 30 days).

It looks like Google's maps include too much information, they take up too much space and there's no way to download some simplified maps.

Let's try one of the smallest countries in Europe: Liechtenstein, which has an area of only 160 square kilometers. The offline map has 62 MB. New York? 409 MB. Los Angeles? 356 MB. Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Bangkok? Not available because of licensing issues.

Forget about downloading the map for an entire country. Google Maps still can't replace the Here app or paid navigation apps.

Google Launch Maps Full-Featured with Offline for Android Users

Google Maps has a really cool mobile app for Android and iOS, but most of its features aren't available when you're offline. You can cache maps for small regions and that's pretty useful, but what if you want to cache the maps for an entire country or use navigation and driving directions when you're in a different country? The Here app offers this feature for free and now you can use it in Google Maps too.

"Now you can download an area of the world to your phone, and the next time you find there's no connectivity — whether it's a country road or an underground parking garage — Google Maps will continue to work seamlessly. Whereas before you could simply view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, and find useful information about places, like hours of operation, contact information or ratings," mentions Google.

"You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, for instance, and tapping 'Download' on the resulting place sheet, or by going to 'Offline Areas' in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the + button. Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you're in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all. When a connection is found, it will switch back online so you can easily access the full version of Maps, including live traffic conditions for your current route."

The new feature is gradually rolling out in the latest version of Google Maps for Android and it will soon be added to the iOS app. 6 years after launching turn-by-turn navigation, this feature works offline and Google Maps can finally replace paid navigation apps.

Offline Google Maps Navigation, Directions and More

Google released free turn-by-turn navigation for Google Maps back in 2009. At that time, it was one of the top reasons to buy an Android phone, at least if you lived in the US. Since then, Google added support for a lot more countries and developed an app for iOS which included the navigation feature.

Unfortunately, Google Maps Navigation still requires an Internet connection, like most of the features of the Google Maps mobile apps. Navigation continues to work if you lose your Internet connection, but you can't change your destination or your route. Google Maps lets you cache maps, though they're limited to 50km x 50km and you can't get directions, use navigation or find local businesses. Nokia's HERE apps for Windows Phone, Android and iOS allow you to download full-featured country maps for free and use all of these features offline.

The good news is that Google Maps will soon add support for offline turn-by-turn navigation, directions, local search and it will even let you find more information about businesses. Here are some screenshots from the Google I/O Keynote:

According to Jen Fitzpatrick, Google VP for Engineering & Product Management, the new features will be released later this year.

YouTube Caches Videos

I noticed that my Nexus 5 uses a lot of storage for cache and I wanted to see which Android app caches so much data. It turns out that YouTube used 269MB for cache. I didn't use YouTube's offline feature for music videos, so it seemed strange to see that YouTube suddenly caches a lot of data.

It turns out that YouTube's mobile app for Android now caches the videos you watch. If you watch a video again, YouTube no longer has to download the same chunked files: it uses the cache. After watching a video, I switched to the airplane mode and I could play the video offline, even if it's not supported by YouTube Music Key.

Even YouTube's desktop site started to cache videos again. Since switching toadaptive streams (DASH) in the HTML5 player, YouTube downloaded videos every time you watched them, wasting a lot of bandwidth.

Offline YouTube

One of YouTube Music Key's features lets you download music videos and watch them offline. Unfortunately, it doesn't even work for all music videos. If you're in India, Indonesia or Philippines, you'll be able to download other popular videos and you don't have to subscribe to YouTube Music Key.

"This feature lets you take videos offline to watch later during short periods of low or no internet connectivity. For videos where this feature is available, you can choose to add the video for offline viewing by tapping on the offline icon. Once taken offline, videos can be played back without an Internet connection for up to 48 hours, so you can enjoy YouTube videos without worrying about slow connections," informs YouTube.

But why limit this feature to 3 countries? "Asia has proven itself to be a mobile-first world in terms of smartphone adoption, but access to high-speed, affordable data remains a big challenge. Making these popular videos available for offline playback will help people move past the challenges of data connection, speed and cost to enjoy a smooth, buffer-free version of their favorite content," explains Jay Akkad, YouTube Product Manager.

The offline feature is available in the YouTube app for Android and iOS. For now, the catalog of offline-enabled videos is limited to some Hindi movies, music videos and some other popular videos. "To help monetize this initiative, this feature will be ad-supported, and ads will also show up in offline mode," informs BGR.

Chrome's Context-Sensitive Spell Checker Works Offline

Avi, a reader of this blog, found a great way to illustrate the enhanced spell checking feature from Chrome 26. Just type this short text:

"Is tehre a solution to tehre problem for when tehre traveling?"

I've compared Chrome 25 and Chrome 26. The difference is striking: Chrome 25 shows the same suggestions for the 3 spelling errors ("there", "ether", "three", "Tehran"), while Chrome 26 shows different suggestions for each mistake.

Here's the contextual menu from Chrome 25:

... and here are the suggestions from Chrome 26:

The most interesting thing is that Chrome shows the same suggestions even if you disable "ask Google for suggestions", so they're generated locally (only the errors with a green underline are detected by the web service). Obviously, the web service is useful in other cases, but it's surprising to see that Chrome's context-sensitive spell checking works offline, even if only in a limited way.

Offline Google Translate for Android

Google Translate is useful, but you need an Internet connection to translate some text. Google's servers process your request, so language models are always up-to-date, you can translate long texts instantly and you don't need to download huge databases. Unfortunately, Google Translate is especially useful when you visit foreign countries and you may want to avoid the high data roaming fees.

Now you can use Google Translate offline if you have an Android device. Just install the latest version of the Google Translate for Android and you can download the core translation files for more than 50 languages. If you've already installed the application, you need to manually update it. The compressed language files have about 150MB (200MB after extracting the files from the archive) and are stored on your SD card if your Android device has one.

"You can select [Offline Languages] in the app menu to see all the offline language packages available for download. To enable offline translation between any two languages, you just need to select them in the offline languages menu. Once the packages are downloaded, you're good to go," informs Google.

The application works well offline, but you may need to wait a few seconds if you want to translate long texts. Offline translations are less accurate since Google lets you download some simplified language models.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the offline and online translations of a French text from Le Monde: