Using offline maps on Windows Phone 8

One of the really useful features in Windows Phone 8 is the ability to use maps offline. I recently had the opportunity to road-test this feature in a trip to Lisbon in Portugal. It works like this:

  • Before leaving home I downloaded the map for Portugal (more on this below). It’s about 140MB in size so not too large
  • When I got to Portugal I made sure that roaming was switched off so that I didn’t incur huge data fees
  • Normally this would mean that maps wouldn’t work which is annoying because, frankly, one time you can really do with maps is when you’re in a foreign country
  • However, because I had downloaded the map for Portugal I was able to use the maps as usual, and the phone uses GPS (which is of course free and requires no data plan) to locate you on the map

It works fantastically and was incredibly useful. It even worked fine in the tiny streets in the old quarter of the city and meant we could find our way around easily without worrying about running up data bills.

Setting it up is simple: Go to Settings, then swipe across to Applications, then select Maps, then "download maps".

Press the “+” option, choose the area of the world you’re visiting, and then the country, and it kicks off the download.

And that’s it. When you visit the country you’ll find that maps work and GPS is able to locate you as you move about.