Caching iPod touch driving directions

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Reader Stephen Good has a good question about driving with an iPod touch. He writes:

What is the best way to download driving directions onto an iPod touch? It seems so last century to print out directions in 2009. Google Maps remembers the last set of directions searched on Wi-Fi, but displays it only as a list. Maps can’t accept multiple stop directions, reverse the route, nor be redirected without a Wi-Fi connection. Suggestions?

At the risk of offending you right out of the gate, I’m afraid you’re mistaken about Maps maintaining only list directions after it’s lost a Wi-Fi connection. But there’s a trick to it.

Before venturing out into the world and while still connected to Wi-Fi, enter your directions. Now tap the dog-ear icon in the bottom right of the display and tap Satellite so that view loads. Tap dog-ear again, tap Hybrid so that view loads. Dog-ear one more time and tap Map to ensure that view is cached as well. Now take off.

When you return to Maps while on the road, it may appear that your directions aren’t saved. But they are. If the Map view doesn’t appear, tap the Start button in the upper-right corner of the display. This should provide you with the first leg of your journey. Tap the left-pointing arrow on this screen and the Map view should load—this time with a map actually on it. If you tap the dog-ear icon, you should be able to also load the Satellite, Hybrid, and List views. I’ve tested this on two 2G iPod touches and it works, even if you shut down and restart the iPod.

Reverse directions doesn’t work, however. You’re stuck with exactly what was saved when you last used Maps when connected to Wi-Fi. So, what to do? Put the iPod’s screen capture feature to good use.

While connected to Wi-Fi, map out your reverse journey (and stops along the way and alterate routes, if you like) and simultaneously press the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons to take screen shots of any important steps in your journey. When you’re ready for your return trip, call up those directions within the Photos app.

Not as slick as using a GPS or iPhone, granted. But it’s free. And free ain’t bad.

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