It might have been going through a bit of a bad patch on the device front, but when it comes to maps, there is no questioning Nokia’s muscle. So when the company announced that it would be bringing its maps to the Web and to all devices (they were a Nokia exclusive initially), the cheers that followed were loud and hearty. The loudest of these came from the iOS user crowd, which was feeling more than a little let down by the maps introduced by iOS 6. Well, they now have the Here Maps app to get some Nokia Maps delight on their iPhones and iPads. And it is available free!
The app is a relatively lightweight affair at less than 4MB, and that is mainly because it is pretty much similar to the its Web app avatar (which you can access at www.here.net on your device’s browser), and this is particularly the case in the iPhone or iPad. The app starts off with showing your location on the map (as a green dot), with places of interest in your vicinity being displayed in a scrollable bar on the bottom of the app on the iPad (but not on the iPhone).
The real magic however, lies in the small icon on the bottom right corner of the app, tapping on which lets you see the map through different layers. You can check out a satellite view, public transport view and in our opinion, the handiest of them all – the live traffic view which gives you a fair idea of traffic in your vicinity (it seemed to work just fine in Central Delhi in the hour that we spent using it). There is an option to access community maps – made by different users – but we could find no way of activating it.
On top of the app is the search bar which lets you search for places on the Web. You also have the option to get route directions (text only, no voice) for reaching the venue on foot, by car and by public transport, make your collections of favourite places (you will need to log into your Nokia account to do so, though) and also send feedback about the app. And in what we think is a rather cool touch, you can save portions of the map for offline use, although navigation and search work only when you are online. Also, you can save just one portion of the map – you cannot have multiple saves.
The best part, however, is that with a decent connection, Here Maps work very well indeed. Yes, you do need constant Internet connectivity to get the most out of it, but directions and routes work very well, and you can find out points of interest with reviews in many cases. There will be some who will complain about the data charges incurred in using the app, but then that would happen in the case of Google Maps too. What concerned us a tad more was that some of the information was dated – the Oxford Bookstore in Statesman House in Connaught Place in Central Delhi has been shut for a while now. However, all said and done, we got better and more accurate results than we ever had through Google Maps on our iOS devices. Yes, the absence of voice navigation rankled but the availability of traffic data and the speed with which the app worked out routes more than compensated.
As good as Nokia Maps on a Lumia? Naaah. The best free mapping option available on the App Store right now? Based on what we have seen so far, hell, yes. You definitely need to download this if you have an iOS and are seeking directions!
Available from: iTunes App Store