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Google’s Android Maps app has been upgraded to provide offline search and directions.

The software also lets devices find businesses’ locations, opening hours and telephone numbers while offline.

Google said tourists visiting places outside their mobile subscription plans and people living in emerging markets, where data can be expensive, would be among those who would benefit most.

The company said downloading most of Greater London would take up 380MB on a device, while storing the San Francisco Bay area would require about 200MB.

It added that it intended to release a similar update for iOS devices “very soon”, but could not confirm if that would be before the year’s end.

To make use of the new feature, users will have to tell the app to download an area they select.

Once the information has been installed, the app is designed to switch “seamlessly” between offline and online modes unless forced to stay off the net.

Photo Google

Photo Google

That means, for example, that if a driver starts their journey in an underground garage without a data connection, the app will suggest a route and drive-time estimate based on typical conditions, but will then amend the advice once it gains access to live traffic and accident information.

The offline map will automatically update once every 15 days to stay current so long as the handset is plugged into a charger and connected to Wi-Fi, unless the user overrides these restrictions.

The offline mode does have some limitations, however.

Reviews people have posted about restaurants and other businesses are not shown, nor are user-generated photos.

Owners cannot switch to a satellite view, and while the app provides driving directions, it will not offer walking or public transport-based routes.