updated 11:44 am EDT, Fri October 5, 2012
Switch to vector tech leaves more data in memory
The iOS 6 version of Maps is more useful than its predecessor in terms of offline navigation, AppleInsider observes. Because the new app uses vector data instead of bitmaps, it consumes roughly 80 percent less space, and a greater area appears to be stored in memory when in Airplane Mode or outside of cellular or Wi-Fi service. iOS 5 Maps, based on Google content, would typically only save map tiles within a 10-mile radius at a couple of zoom levels.
iOS 6 is said to allow browsing state outlines for an entire continent, or in a more practical example, highway-level details for most of California and to a lesser extent the rest of the western US. In some cases this may include comprehensive street-level maps, such as for Salt Lake City. Zooming out to the globe retains basic satellite images and the names of major cities; using the hybrid roads/satellite view should still work for areas measuring over 100 miles. Hybrid views didn't work at all when offline in iOS 5.
More importantly the iOS 6 maps will still pair up with GPS data, allowing a person to figure out where they are as long as the right maps are still in cache. iOS does, however, lack a dedicated offline mode, something available to users of the Google Maps app for Android. Saved Android maps are limited to a radius of 50 miles, and cut out hybrid or satellite views, but otherwise include complete details.
Apple could conceivably introduce offline maps in a later version of iOS 6. The company is still working on problems with existing content though, since people have complained about inaccuracies and poor rendering, as well as features that were in iOS 5 but have been stripped out.