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Google Maps makes your holiday travels easier with offline maps and more

For most people, the holidays entail a lot of traveling. So, with this apparently in mind, Google has just updated the official iOS app of its popular Maps service to help users get around better this holiday season and beyond.

Offline maps

First and foremost, Google has begun rolling out offline maps to users of Google Maps for iOS. This will enable you to download the mapping data of an area to your device so that you can tap into that data when your device has spotty Internet connectivity or none at all — perfect for when driving in an underground parking garage or traveling off the beaten track.

Whereas previously you could just view an area of the map offline, now you can get turn-by-turn driving directions, search for specific destinations, access various pieces of place information — the works.

Here’s a preview of how you can download an area of the map for offline use, as shown on Google Maps for Android:

Gas prices

The latest update to Google Maps also help you be more cost-aware when deciding where to gas up along the road. Now, when searching for gas stations in the U.S. and Canada, you can find out which station offers the best combination of convenience and affordability by looking at nearby stations’ gas prices, which Google says are kept up-to-date in the Maps app.

Google Maps gas prices

Popular times

A couple of days ago, Google’s flagship search app for iOS was updated with 3D Touch and iPad multitasking. Also, it was updated with popular times, which have now made their way to Google Maps for iOS as well.

“Do you ever find yourself trying to avoid long lines or wondering what the best time to go grocery shopping, pick up coffee or hit the gym is?” Google asks. “Now, you can avoid the wait and see the busiest times of the week at millions of places and businesses around the world directly in Google Maps on iOS.”

Now, when you do a search for a place you want to go to (e.g. Murray’s Cheese Shop), you’ll see the location’s operating hours along with a graph showing the busiest times of the day. These then help you adjust your plans accordingly to avoid the crowds, which are sure to become larger and larger as the holiday season kicks in.

Google Maps busy times

More from Google

These new additions to the already impressive feature set of Google Maps of course make it an even better competitor to Apple Maps, especially now that the latter is said to be used three times more often on iOS devices than the former.

Google Maps for iOS is available on the App Store for free. It’s compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad running iOS 7.0 or later, with support for Apple Watch for viewing directions directly from the wrist.

If you can’t see the demo embedded above, please click here.

Google itself has been busy updating its iOS apps in time for the holidays. Aside from its Maps app, Google has recently released significant updates to its Docs, Play Books, Classroom, Hangouts, Chrome, Calendar, Snapseed, Photos, Wallet, Play Movies & TV, and the aforementioned Google search app.

Moreover, it’s set to release an update this week to Inbox by Gmail. The update is expected to make sharing travel plans and memories easier this holiday season and beyond with improvements to the app’s Trip Bundles and mobile attachments.

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