“Download map area” in Google Maps for Android

map downloadYou can now download a map area in Google Maps to your Android phone.  This is great if you are in an area with spotty or non-existent coverage.

When you’re visiting an unfamiliar location, Google Maps for mobile is great for getting an idea of how close you are to your destination, where streets and landmarks are in relation to each other, or just for getting “un-lost.” But what if you don’t have a data signal, or you’re abroad and don’t have a data plan? We say that if you use Google Maps for mobile, you’ll never need to carry a paper map again. The “Download map area” lab in Google Maps 5.7 for Android is a step in making that statement true even when you’re offline.

Google’s blog also reminds of other lab features–the measure tool and the scale bar.

Official Google Blog: “Download map area” added to Labs in Google Maps for Android.

Great maps for printing

Printing a color map obtained from an online source in black and white (grayscale) will often times yield underwhelming results.  Those maps that you get in color sometimes lose a lot of details due to the way the colors convert to grayscale.  Seemingly, all of those colors that had pretty decent contrast, all become the same shade of gray.

If you know you are going to print in grayscale (or black and white), you can tweak the color maps in Photoshop using the “Black and White” adjustment layer.  This adjustment layer is typically for making black and white photos from color pictures, but its fine control over every hue lets you emphasize or deemphasize any aspect of the map you wish — lakes, rivers, roads, interstates, parks, etc.  You can also use it to tune the image before stacking a “Threshold” adjustment layer on top of that if you need something that is truly black and white instead of grayscale.

Here are some examples: