Although only for Android at this stage (and to be honest, I’m not sure half of the newer features will ever make it to Symbian), the latest Google Maps Android client includes support for downloading maps for offline usage. This is only the first generation of this, and I’m sure Google will implement more features around this as time goes on. At the moment, it’s a “Labs” feature, which allows you to choose whether or not to turn it on, but having done so, you can then long press any location on the map and the Places page that you can select has an option to download maps.
This downloads a map approx. 10 miles around the chosen spot (though it’s a square area, so not exactly 10 miles). If you change your mind, you can go into the Cache settings to delete the download. Right now, this version will only download the base maps and landmarks, so a lot of detail is missing (and obviously no satellite maps), but it’s a good start, and combined with a few well placed favourites (starred places), this should be better than no maps at all whilst travelling, especially abroad, where you don’t want the roaming charges. However, don’t plan for that trip abroad too far in advance; Google Maps will automatically delete the data after 30 days, so you need to do this just before travelling.
I have to say it’s a good start, but it still seems a little bit hit and miss, and until it’s a more controllable feature, I’ll be sticking with other apps that use complete offline maps. Also, if roaming, don’t forget that the GPS uses a little 3G data to get the initial fix, so unless you turn that off (or turn off data completely), you won’t avoid all roaming costs, and, to be honest, an Android device seems to use more data that others due to the background sync options that you need to be careful over roaming costs.
As always, this is available from the Android Market.
Screenshot courtesy of Google, where you can also get more information.