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Google Maps 5.7 for Android finds your way even without a phone signal

We don't know what we did before Google Maps, but it's just got even better. Google Maps 5.7 for Android adds offline maps, so you can still find your way even when you haven't got a phone signal.

We don't know what we did before Google Maps, and it has just got even better. Google Maps 5.7 for Android adds offline maps, so you can still find your way even when you haven't got a phone signal.

The experimental feature means you can download your chosen section of map onto your phone. Then you can search the map, zoom in and out, and find your way round without needing to connect the Internet.

It's handy if you're wandering around in a place without a decent phone signal, you're planning the rest of your journey while on a tube train, or you're overseas and don't want to rack up costly data charges because you can't remember how to say "Où est le singe qui porte un chapeau??"

Apparently we used to find our way round with maps made of something called paper. They were rubbish -- you couldn't zoom in and out, you had to work out your own directions between places and if you wanted Street View it required going down there yourself and a trip to the chemist to get the pictures developed. It's a wonder anyone left the house.

A bit of advance planning is required to grab the map on your Android phone. When you're in a Wi-Fi or 3G area, find the area you're interested in, then from the More options menu choose Download map area. That will then save a map of a 10-mile radius around your destination. It will take a minute or two depending on your data connection.

Being able to use maps without a data signal has been a killer feature in Nokia Ovi Maps for a while, and we're pleased as punch that it's now in Android too. To celebrate, we're going to get ourselves horribly lost to see if we can find our way home.

Actually that's just an average Friday now we come to think of it. How will you be using offline maps? Chart a course in the comments or follow these directions to our Facebook page.