June 3, 2015

Google Maps Breaks Borders with Offline Availability

By Megan G.

At Google I/O 2015, we learned that full Google Maps functionality will be available offline by the end of this year.  Distant cries can be heard from traveling businesspeople and avid vacationers, “Yes!  No more crippling data charges while I’m milling about abroad!”  But this update isn’t just about serving those privileged enough to take trips across the globe. 

In developing countries, mobile data connections are often hard-to-find, unreliable, and grossly expensive.  The internet company’s move towards offline availability signifies a huge technological leap forward for these areas.  Google’s goal of bringing valuable information easily and freely to everyone—and they mean everyone—can actually be achieved with this update.

Jen Fitzpatrick, Google’s VP of product management, had the honor of announcing this exciting news on the Google I/O Keynote stage.  She touched on advancements in the Android OS that implements offline features for Google Maps, Google Search, and even YouTube.  You can check out the full Keynote video on the Google I/O 2015 main page. 

Fitzpatrick also revealed six international markets projected to experience the most smartphone growth over the next two years.  Over one billion smartphones may be sold in these countries in that time period and, interestingly enough, certain reports depict that Android will dominate in both global shipments and market share.

What countries are these?  Here they are, six developing countries poised to play a big part in the smartphone market.

Brazil enjoys a highly lucrative mobile gaming market, in which revenues will reach about $300 million this year.

China has a reportedly “saturated” smartphone market and smartphones are considered a necessary tool for average Chinese families.

India has the top share in Internet traffic on mobile devices, with over 65% of online searches happening on smartphones in India. 
Indonesia will soon host four new smartphone factories from the companies of ASUS, Huawei, Lenovo, and Xiaomi.  Samsung also opened a new factory back in February of this year.

Mexico has a huge smartphone user base (recorded to be around 50 million people in 2014) obsessed with over-the-top messaging apps, including LINE, WeChat and WhatsApp. 

Russia has entered their own smartphone, the YotaPhone, into this booming market and the government seems determined to advertise their own device over those from the West.  What this means for Android sales in this country will only be shown with time.
According TechCrunch, Google seeks to bring internet connectivity—and offline availability—to “the next billion people” of the world.  This grouping refers to the roughly 7 billion people in the world that still aren’t online.  That number makes this new project quite the task to undertake.  

Well, Google didn’t get to where they are today by thinking small, did they?  With the advancements announced at Google I/O, the company seems to be well on its way toward information access for all.

Have you had the chance to try out any offline services?  What has been your experience with them?  Please let the Tek Team know in the comments!  

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