Using Eircode with Google Maps

Posted by Pat Donnelly | Dec 21, 2016

This blog describes how to use Google Maps as your primary Sat-Nav device for use with Eircodes.  

​I'll cover the following:
1. How to set-up offline mode for all of Ireland
2. How to get directions to an Eircode
3. How to easily use your phone as an in-car Sat-Nav

How to set-up offline mode for all of Ireland

One of the reasons for sticking with a legacy stand-alone Sat-Nav is it will work offline, not requiring cell phone coverage or mobile credit.  Thankfully Google Maps now has an offline mode, so you can download any area on your home WiFi and use Google offline without worrying about losing coverage or racking up a mobile download bill.

Open Google Maps app on your phone and tap on the menu gmenu  to bring up the option to set-up Offline Areas.

gm1

After you tap on Offline Areas you'll see the following dialog.  Tap on the Custom area option to set-up and download an offline area.  By default Google won't let you do this unless you are connected to WiFi.

gm2
Basically you zoom in and out and pan around on the map to choose an offline area.  Frustratingly Ireland is just a little bigger than the maximum area that Google will allow you to download.  Thankfully you can just set-up two areas and they will operate as one seamless dataset once downloaded.   There are probably more efficient ways of defining the two areas to reduce overlap, but I've set mine up as shown in the images below.

gm3 
There is a warning on both images that they may contain 1.7GB each!  Don't worry, while Google does download all the mapping, addresses, eircodes and 3D city data for all of Ireland (and addresses and postcodes for Northern Ireland) it doesn't take that much data.  As you can see from the image below it uses a total of 591 MB of storage, preferably on your SD card rather than your phone storage.

gm4


Google will periodically prompt you when connected to your home WiFi if you want to update your offline areas or if you have finished with them​.


How to get directions to an Eircode

I've put my phone into offline mode (airplane mode) to demonstrate the next part, which is getting directions to an Eircode, but of course this works in online mode too.  Simply enter the seven character Eircode and Google will display their version of the address (usually not the way you would write it yourself!) and a distance, so just tap on this address.

gm5

The address will be displayed on the map, and you can tap on the directions button to get Sat-Nav directions.

gm6

How to easily use your phone as an in-car Sat-Nav

One of the biggest issues that put me off using my phone as my in-car Sat-Nav was setting it up quickly in its cradle.  That problem was solved when I discovered Magicmount magnetic mounting available in Maplins.   I have a magnet on the back of my case that instantly (and incredibly securely) mounts my phone ready to use as a Sat-Nav.


I find this set-up so much easier than a legacy stand-alone Sat-Nav, which was consistently out of date.  I dreaded the hassle of connecting it to my PC for what felt like hours on end for each update.  Hopefully other Eircode apps will come on line shortly, for example TomTom have licensed Eircode but have yet to announce when it will be supported.


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