Google Maps, the venerable mapping service from the world's largest search company, will soon work both online and off.
Google Maps' offline support will be launching "later this year," Google announced during its keynote address at its I/O developer confab on Thursday. The feature will allow users to download maps to their devices and get the full Google Maps experience, including turn-by-turn voice directions even when they're away from an Internet connection.
The offline push is a major departure for Google Maps, which has over 1 billion users. Since its launch in 2005, users needed to have a Web connection to use its features, which include mapping and directions, among others. Adding offline support makes the service far more useful in areas around the world where Web connections are unavailable or slow.
Google's annual conference for software developers, I/O, is one of the biggest for Google, as the company shares the latest developments in its world-leading Android mobile operating system. Google also uses the stage to talk up its wearable platform Android Wear, its in-car infotainment service Android Auto, and other services.