A week ago, Nokia CEO Steven Elop announced that the new mapping service of Nokia, HERE Maps, will be available for iOS users in the form of an HTML5 app and bring the much needed feature rich native app to iOS, after the disastrous decision by Apple to come with their own half-baked maps app.

Some cynics were claiming that Apple would delay the approval of Here Maps, but not to be. HERE Maps is available today for free download from the iTunes Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

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What features do HERE Maps offer iOS users

It seems that Nokia wants to create a much better than what we were used to have, and so, HERE Maps has quite a lot to offer to its users. Here are some of the more notable features:

  • Live traffic and public transportation lines over satellite view
  • Voice guided navigation
  • Walking directions
  • Map download for offline use
  • Remember and share locations
  • Email and SMS instructions

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As you can see, HERE Maps offer some advantages over the Apple maps app, and because it works on HTML5 and uses a state of the art NAVTEQ mapping data , Nokia claims that the service is very fast. In our hands-on, we found that Here Maps to be fast, but not fast enough, specially on slower connections, where Apple’s own Maps app seemed to fare better (albeit, with less data).

Download HERE Maps app for iOS

Anyone who is interested in downloading the app, can visit the iTunes store where they will find the app for free. Here is the download link:

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First Impressions

We took the HERE maps for a ride, and came out pretty impressed. Though the HTML5 based app is just a wrapper over the web app, the usability isn’t compromised a big deal, specially on WiFi & 3G. For some off reason, turn-by-turn navigation is not available for Driving mode, but can be activated via Walking mode. Not to mention, Nokia’s local business database is quite good as compared to Apple Maps, but has a long way to go to compete with Google.

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The good thing was, most places on Maps were accurate (take that, Apple) & availability of Traffic data for many cities across the world is an added boost. The biggest plus, personally, is the ability to save maps for offline use! Unfortunately, public transit wasn’t available for our city, but Nokia does have it for many places around the world. All in all, a welcome addition to iTunes, and am sure many iOS users will heave a sigh of relief.

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Raju PP contributed for this post.

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I often wonder, where is technology heading? What do all of these advances mean for us and for our future? I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know how to use a floppy disk, or how a computer CPU works, but now, until I find an answer to my questions, I’ll keep tracking these advances and show everything I find to those who share my interests.