Mobile devices have revolutionized the way we travel. Before smartphones, driving to an unfamiliar destination meant printing out directions from a service like MapQuest (and before that, you bought physical maps at the gas station that were often outdated).

While convenient, today's solution isn't perfect. Should you find yourself lost without cell reception, you're practically driving blind - something Google aims to prevent with its latest version of Maps. Here's how it works.

Before hitting the road (when you still have reliable cell reception), you can select an area of the map that you'll be traversing. Said selection will then be saved in the "Offline Areas" section of the app. Then, once you're out on the open road and encounter an area with spotty reception, the app will automatically revert to the locally downloaded map.

It's worth pointing out that it's not just maps, either. Google Maps will save all relevant search and navigation data in the area you've selected meaning you can search for a great restaurant, the nearest gas station or the local zoo - all without an Internet connection. When you venture back into coverage, the app automatically transitions back to the full "live" version.

Offline mode is rolling out to Android users as of writing. Those on iOS will need to sit tight as Google says the improvements are pending.

Lead image courtesy The Verge