There’s a great little trick with the latest Google Maps for iOS (the v2.0 that shipped earlier this week). Just by typing a magic phrase into the search box, you can cache the current map view for online use.
Apparently Android users have had this feature for a while, but since Android users never leave the house except to buy donuts and Mountain Dew, it’s a moot point. But now gregarious, passport-owning iPhone users can also save the currently loaded map view into a local cache. This will let you use the maps outside on Wi-Fi-only devices, or use the GPS radio when in foreign lands without needing a costly data connection.
Here’s the trick: Just line up your map to the area you want and type
That’s it. If you’re in a supported area, the maps will be saved. If not, you get an error message telling you the the area you’re on isn’t covered. This happens to me in Barcelona, so you might consider avoiding it on your vacations.
I actually managed a recent trip to Tel Aviv using my iPhone and Apple’s maps in a kind of offline mode. I just zoomed in and out and panned around a lot while I had a Wi-Fi connection and then relied on cacheing to take care of things. Amazingly, it worked, thanks (I guess) to the power of tiny vector maps intend of memory-heavy bitmap tiles.