If you want an offline map in the Android maps app, you select an area to download and it does just that. Any area. There are size limits though.
Yes, you can still do this with the "OK Maps" rubbish (WTF were they thinking?); however, it is much less functional than the old version where you just go into the menu and click "Make available off-line". This would then show you a convenient box so you know when you have hit the size limits (it goes red when the area is too large). You could then see a list of all the maps you had saved off-line, how much data they were using, when they were cached and you could also rename them.
Measuring distance in a straight line isn't all that important.
I disagree with you there. I often want to know the distance between two points. Also the old maps (with the measure lab) let you plot multiple lines and it did a sum for you. You could then get approximate distances between any points on the map (not just for driving). It would also give you a nice graph showing ascent changes.
Another thing that Google removed was the terrain maps.
Google's war on advanced users continues.