While Apple’s developers work hard on improving the Maps app after heavy criticism it received upon release, Nokia has unveiled their own maps app that seeks to gain the attentions of iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users frustrated with the state of Apple’s built-in offering.
HERE Maps, announced just a week ago will help Nokia expand the usage of their map data, which CEO Stephen Elop believes will let more people benefit and contribute to the service.
Nokia Maps, the company’s own official maps app for Nokia and Windows Phone devices, has long received praise for it’s detail, usability and ingenuity. While I had strong hopes that such aspects of the service would carry over to HERE Maps well, on first impressions I’m a little disappointed, but before I explain I’ll detail HERE Maps’ features.
Apart from the live traffic updates, various map views and search history capabilities that smartphone users have come to expect from all good mapping services the app contains a number of features foreign to users of the standard Maps application, including the ability to view community maps submitted by users, view public transportation information and share how to get to locations using SMS, email and social networks.
Its most notable feature, which thankfully is carried over from Nokia Maps, may be the ability to save map area data so that you can browse it without using up any data in your plan. This is incredibly useful, whether you’re travelling somewhere that is likely to have little reception or going somewhere new and want to be able to move around that area of a map quickly without hiccups, everybody can find a use for the feature.
Unfortunately the process is quite tedious as saving in detail effectively requires you to “screenshot” all of the area you want saved at the highest zoom level so that it can stitch the screenshots together, which could take a while. The other option is to save from a lower zoom level, which will still let you zoom into the saved map to a certain degree, but with less detail than when fully zoomed in to it’s online counterpart. Echoing a review I read from the App Store, it’d be nice if whole cities could be saved at the touch of a button, despite how sizeable such a thing may be.
When scrolling images take a while to load, unlike the user interface the map images and information aren’t “retina quality,” and design wise the app looks a little dated, in terms of both its UI and maps. Overall it feels like an undercooked version of its bigger brother. With all that said though it’s best you try it out for yourself, as you may have find it to be a keeper despite my early distaste for it.
You can download the app on iTunes here.