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(Pocket-lint) - Android users will soon be able to use the Google Maps app even when no network or Wi-Fi signal is available.

Users will need to download the area they wish to visit in advance from Google Maps. The bigger the area, the more storage is taken up on your phone, but it does mean you’ll be able to find your way around abroad without the need for paper maps or by incurring expensive data charges. 

Even when offline, you will be able to zoom into the area of Google Maps you have downloaded, right down to identifying specific street names. You’ll still be able to use your phones compass without 3G or Wi-Fi too, and so long as you have a GPS connection you’ll also remain represented by the moving blue dot on your map.

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Google, which unveiled the new offline app at a press event in San Francisco, failed to make clear when exactly the app would be available, other than saying “soon”. However, tellingly it was specific in referring to the app as being an “Android application”.

Apple is rumoured to be about to announce that it will no longer be using Google Maps to power its own Apple mapping service app on iPhone and iPad.

Yet it doesn’t all appear to be bad blood between Google and Apple, with Google using the same press event to announce that an improved 3D version of Google Earth will be available on both the Android and iOS platform in the coming weeks.

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What do you think to Google's mapping announcements? Let us know.

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Writing by Danny Brogan.